What could the rising interest in Pokémon Go mean for Big Data?

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Tom Ovenden of Telco Data Analytics Europe looks at the effect smash hit mobile AR game Pokémon Go is likely to have on how we gather and process end-user data.

As you’ve probably noticed, either on the internet, in the news or on the streets, the infamous Pokémon games have made a returned to the forefront of society. The brand first appeared in Japan in 1998 and after huge initial interest was then introduced to the rest of the world later that year. Since then Nintendo have released 122 Pokémon games on a number of consoles plus an endless number of TV series, reaching an estimated core global audience of 10-12 million.

However, just when we thought that Pokémon had had its time, and was being looked back on as another of those kitsch trends, alongside the likes of Yo Yos and Pogs, the game is making a dramatic comeback.  Judging by what we’re seeing not only on the internet, but also the streets you could be hearing the name Pikachu thrown around a lot more often.

The interesting thing comes when you look at how the game is played. In short it is a free-to-play, location-based, augmented reality, multiplayer online mobile game. You need to have a stable online connection at all times in order to play along with having your GPS signal turned on. So you can expect a user to be using a good amount of data whilst walking around and playing this game.

Now this type of game isn’t the first of its kind. Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, has had some previous experience with their very successful game Ingress, and there are many other available in the app store as well as the Google Play store. But the launch of Pokémon Go in the US, Australia and New Zealand has created so much excitement and interest that the stocks of Nintendo have risen $9 billion dollars in just the few days it’s been out, and with this only being officially available in 3 countries so far, once the game hits a worldwide audience you can be sure to see that value rise even more.

With this meteoric rise in popularity, and with more worldwide releases on the horizon, you can be sure that this is only just the start of something very big. Big not only for those chasing Pokémon around town, but also for the Telco data companies, with early users already identifying that a robust data package for their phone is a necessary tool for a day of hunting, along with a full battery.

But what will this increase in data mean? With the increasing capabilities of data analytics tools and the improvement in storage and accessibility, this could lead to some very interesting trends being discovered in correlation with the increasing popularity of the app. With information such as the volume of data, variety, velocity and variability all giving us insight and furthering our knowledge of the end user.

  • Volume – The quantity of generated and stored data. The size of the data determines the value and potential insight, as well as whether it can be classified as big data.
  • Variety – The type and nature of the data. This helps the people who analyse it to effectively use the resulting insight gained.
  • Velocity – The speed at which the data is generated and processed to meet the demands and challenges that lie in the path of growth and development.
  • Veracity – The quality of captured data can vary greatly, affecting accurate analysis
  • Location – Where the data is being captured. This allows analysts to see what areas are hotspots as well as where a user has already been.

While it’s still the early days of Pokémon Go and it’s not yet made it worldwide, there are a few things you can be sure of. You will continue to see Pokémon Go dominating the news for both good and bad reasons, there will undoubtedly be a rise in data needs, for both storage and accessibility, and finally you will more than likely encounter someone in the street or park very soon desperately flicking at their smartphone screen whilst simultaneously trying to make it look like they definitely not playing Pokémon.


Tom OvendenTom Ovenden is Digital Content Marketer at KNect 365. Find out more about the transformational power of big data and geo-analytics for your business at Telco Data Analytics Europe which takes place in Madrid from the 25 – 26th October and is hosted by KNect365 in conjunction with Telefónica. Contact Head of Analytics Emma Pearce at [email protected] or +44 (0) 207 551 9720 for more information.

One comment

  1. Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 22/07/2016 @ 5:12 pm

    Posting this comment on behalf of reader Andy Tiller who experienced technical difficulties when attempting to post it himself:

    Of course, the company behind Pokemon Go is really Google. Niantic is a Google spin off, and the venture funding for the Pokemon Go initiative came from Google and Nintendo. Pokemon Go will produce big data by the data warehouse load, and the ability to monetize big data is Google’s business. But what does the Pokemon Go mean for operators, and how have they reacted?

    Well T-Mobile has responded to the Pokemon Go phenomenon by zero-rating it for data usage to try to capture a piece of the action through handset and airtime sales. That’s ok as far as it goes, and I like the way it challenges net neutrality boundaries in the US, but surely telcos can do better than just give away more free data to associate themselves with something cool done by someone else? Can they emulate Google and actually monetize their own customer insights?

    In principle, operators have access to very deep customer insights (in some aspects, more than PG). But they are a long way behind Google in being able to monetize these insights. AsiaInfo’s research last year highlighted that operators thought it would take them two years to catch up with the large Internet players in this regard. You could also argue that the two-year forecast is based on an assumption that Google and the others would stand still – which is evidently not the case.

    Operators will need to sort out the technology as well as the organizational aspects of unlocking value from their customer data. They will also need to take a less conservative attitude to data privacy. Google knows the secret – give customers something valuable enough to trade their privacy for. It’s a radically different business model for telcos, but one they could benefit from exploring.

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