Pokemon Hunt Leads To Glory For Google-born Niantic

Pokemon Hunt Leads To Glory For Google-born Niantic

Born in Go?gle's shadow, Niantic strode into the spotlight with a m?bile internet s?in on hunting Pokemon but can the obses??on with the game le?d to long-term financial succ?ss?



gaming 6600k vs 6700kNiantic founder and chief executive John ?anke has told a story of naming the company after a whaling ship a?andoned in S?n Francisco Harbor by crew members who rushed off to ?eek fortunes during the famed Gold ?ush.

The s?ip was run aground and converted into a store.

Industry tracker ?ensor Tower estimated that Pokemon Go generated more than $200 million in revenue du?ing the month after its release in early July ?Jim ?atson (AFP/File)

The notion of ?uch long-forgotten wrecks pr?mpted Hank? ?ix years ago to use the name Niantic to christen a quest to combine gaming stationær, mobile map?ing and augmented reality to playfully reveal virtual things hidden in the real world.

Niantic was a side-project for Hanke at Goog?e, which had bought the ent?epreneur's sta?tup Keyhol? in 2004 and turned it into the free ma?ping service G?o?le Earth.

Hanke spent yea?s a? a top exec?tive in a Googl? "geo" ?ivision p?oducing widely used se?vices such as Maps and Str?et View.

The gamer w?nted to go beyond helping people navigate and have fun with the ab?lity for mobile devices to detect people's lo?ations.

The ?ntrepreneur toyed with the id?a ?f launching ? new startup, but instead kept Niantic anchored in the Silicon Valley t?chnology powerhouse.

"Staying at Google gave us the advantage of being able to tap into the data we have at (mapping division) Geo and the infrastructure of Google," Hanke was quoted as saying in a 2012 ?nc. magazine article.

- Portals to Pokemon -

The Niantic project fielde? its first offering in 2011 in the form of a mobile app?ication called Fieldtr?p that served ?? information abo?t where smartphone users were or nearby places of interest.

The following y?ar, Niantic launched a game ca??ed "Ingress," seen as a predecessor to "Pokemon Go."

Ingres?, which has been downloaded more than 15 million times, also use? real world surroundings as the game board.

Instead of trying to catch ?artoon monst?rs su?h as iconi? Pikachu by tar?eting them with "Pokeballs", Ingress playe?s battle for control of virtual po?tals.

Early Ingress fans su?mitted pict?r?s of places as possible portals complete with sate?lite positi?n metadata, essentiall? crowdsourcing a ?ich geo-location database that was put to use in Pokemon Go.

When Google underwent a corporate restructuring last year to divvy its endeavors into arm? ?f a freshly-created parent c?mpany ??lled Alphabet, Niantic ?ent independent.

Google d?d invest in N?antic, as did Nintendo and The gaming raid 0 Pokemon Company.

Niantic claim? from 50 to 100 employees. The private company does not make its financial information public but some analysts value it at more that $3 billion.

To justify such a valuation, Niant?c ?ill have to prove that Pokemon Go is a lasting and profitable, not just another passing fling for notoriously fickle mobile game player?.

Pokemon Go h?s shown it can m?ke money. Industry tracker Sensor Tower estimated that Pokemon Go generated more th?n $200 million in ?evenue during the month after its release in early July.

The game is free, but players can buy virtual supplies such as Poke?alls and lures to attract Pokemon.

Cafes, pubs, restaurants and ?ther venues have taken to buying lures that tempt player? to linger, and ho?efully spend money, while waiting to catch Pokemon.

- Sponsors -

During a recent ?enture Beat technology c?nference, Hanke sai? that the game was designed from the o?tset for in-app pur?hases, and that revenue could also be made from sponsorships al?ng the lines of what was done in Ingress.

Ingress has portals hosted in commercial sp?ts ?uch a? shopping centers, and Pokemon Go launched in Japan with fast food giant ?cDonald's sponsoring in-game locations.

"We are talking to a bunch of other businesses that want to take advantage of that model for Pokemon Go in other parts of the world," Hanke said at the conference.

"It's promising."

A ?trong sel?ing point for Pok?mon Go sponsorships is that they get people swarming to places in a way that typi?al advertising does not.

The power of Pokemon Go ?as, to some, become a bane. P?rks and other pu?lic venues ripe with PokeSto?s or "gyms" wher? cartoon creatures battle are at times over run with players.

Authorities have taken to warning Pokemon Go playe?s against venturing where it is dangerous, illegal, in poor t?ste, ?r t?ey ?re simp?y not wanted.

The game and its creat?r are already in th? sites of la?yers intent on ?uing to hold them accountable for tr?s?assing or injuries involving play?rs.

The Washington-b?sed Electronic Privacy Informat?on Center has called for US regulator? to investigate whethe? Niantic is collecting too much information about p?ayers and th?ir whereabo?ts.

Industry tracker Sensor Towe? est?m?ted that Pokemon Go generated more than $200 million in revenue during the month after its release in early July ?Glenn Chapman (?FP/?ile)

A strong ?elling point for Pokemon Go sponsorship? is that they get people swarm?ng to places in a way that typical adve?tising does not ?Oli Scarff (?FP/File)

Pokemon Go launch?d in ?apan ?ith fa?t food giant McDonald's sponsoring in-game locations ?Toru Y?manaka (AFP/File)

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