Pokemon Go - Just getting gamers off their couches or something more?

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Have you noticed everyone staring at their phones in an unusual way recently?  They aren't checking their Facebook posts any more, they're more likely playing   Pokemon Go! It's the latest game to hit everyone's smartphone - but this one is different.


It's an augmented reality game using your phone's location capabilities. You play by walking around using your camera to view little virtual monsters  in places near your phone location. Sounds odd. But it is incredibly addictive, gets people gaming outside and opens up a whole new social experience. It's an incredibly good use of mobile location and is taking the world by storm!


Hitting the top app lists in the US and Australia, it was finally  launched in the UK this week.  Expect to see everyone walking around London landmarks flicking their phone screens to catch a Pikachu or  Squirtle.


I caught up with my 16 year old nephew, Adam Radford, to get the inside track on how he and his friends are getting out of the house and playing. Of course, they downloaded it  immediately the UK  release was announced on Snapchat.


"My friends and I downloaded the game and went into Burgess Hill, not really knowing what to expect.  Our phones started  buzzing and  we could see loads of characters around the town through our phones - amazing!  I quickly caught my first  Pokemon by flicking a pokeball at it from my screen. My friends Katie and David  were  not far behind me and before long we were  at our first Pokestop. Pokestops are  the best place to collect items such as pokeballs, potions, revives and eggs.  The more you collect the more you level-up your character.  There are loads of levels and lots of  great mini-games. Can't wait to get to the next level and see where it takes us next."


It's not just kids that are playing Pokemon Go.  Many people were brought up on Pokemon in the 90s and the nostalgic  link is a great way to encourage a  huge user group to download the app and get involved. It overtook Twitter user registrations in three days from launch. It became the biggest  mobile game in US history  in less than ten days.


This  is a real success story for using the powerful location capabilities of our smartphones. It's added more than $7bn (£5.4bn) to Nintendo's value by virtue of shares  in the company rallying since it was released.  I keep hearing people saying 'You're best  turning off your location services to save battery' or 'make sure you say 'no' when an app asks to use your location in the background'. But I think that is  because there are very few apps out there that really showcase our phone's capabilities with functionality that is truly groundbreaking or useful.  We all have an incredibly capable asset in our hands and having to switch off some of the  amazing  features just seems a waste. You don't turn off your aircon in the car because it uses fuel!


It's app producers that need to think carefully how they use location to the benefit of the app user. As you can see, there's a huge market out there if you get it right. And we are only scratching the surface of what smartphone location can really  do for us.


Pokemon Go reminds me of my favourite childhood joke  "how do you get Pikachu on a bus? Pokemon."    Well now you can see Pikachu on a bus for real.


Now get out and enjoy the summer sunshine and catch some more Charizards.  


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Peter Weare

Industry leader in digital transformation. Passionate about delivering a frictionless consumer  experience. Regular commenter on getting delivery right.

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