Rarely have we seen a digital obsession take hold of millions of people so completely—and so rapidly—as we have with Pokémon Go, the “augmented reality” app that only came out a week ago, and has now eclipsed Twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook in the amount of time users are spending with it. Watch out, Snapchat!
Not since the days of Farmville and Angry Birds has such a massive flash crowd formed so quickly around a game. But Pokémon Go is significantly different from those other obsessions.
The difference, of course, is that this game isn’t played by moms and kids on their phones, sitting at home anonymously in their living rooms or in their cars. It’s played by people you can see, stumbling around Central Park and their neighbor’s back yard and other unlikely places, looking for virtual characters to add to their collections.
Already, officials from both the Holocaust Museum and the Arlington National Cemetery have appealed to players to respect the solemnity of their institutions by not running around in them trying to catch virtual monsters with their phones. Whether that will stop anyone remains to be seen.
There have been reports of violence involving Pokémon players, although some of that is fictitious. At least one man was injured when he smashed into an illegally parked car that a player had abandoned. Police have felt it necessary to warn drivers not to play the game while they are behind the wheel.
Reading all these news stories, it feels as though it’s just a matter of time before one player shoots another for stealing their Charmander or for beating them in one of the head-to-head combat features. The game has already been involved in several robberies.
As apocalyptic as things might feel right now, however, entertaining obsessions like Pokémon Go have a tendency to burn very brightly and then subside. For the moment the game seems like the most important thing in the world, but other priorities will almost certainly come to the fore in time—perhaps even other augmented reality games. Does anyone remember Farmville?
In the meantime, it’s a fairly delicious irony that a twist on a 20-year-old game is responsible for getting tens of thousands or even millions of people to leave their computers and homes and wander around in the actual world, even if some of them are behaving like idiots. Thanks, Pokémon!
BITS AND BYTES
And then there were three. Google faces its third set of charges brought by European antitrust officials. The latest complaint claims that the Internet giant limits the ability of rivals to advertise competitive services. The EU is also pursuing Google over a shopping comparison site and its Android mobile operating system, used on many smartphones and tablet computers. (New York Times, Fortune)
Watch for Peter Thiel at the Republican convention. The billionaire venture capitalist has nabbed a high-profile speaking slot—the same night that Donald Trump himself will address attendees. (Recode)
Analysts would love to see Intel sell its cybersecurity business. The tech giant has talked to several private equity firms about buying the unit it formed back in 2010 when it paid $7.7 billion for McAfee, reports Bloomberg. The exercise is part of CEO Brian Krzanich’s broader plan to divest businesses dependent on personal computers. (Fortune)
Amazon proclaims official tally for Prime Day. Sales were up 60% compared with last year’s event, which sounds impressive but actually undershot some expectations. The e-commerce giant hasn’t released official figures, but estimates put the tally at around $650 million. (Fortune, Wired)
New index shows how few women are on tech boards. Less than 7% of all private technology companies have female directors, although the numbers are slightly better for “unicorns” valued at more than $1 billion. That data comes courtesy of research by theBoardlist, which was created by entrepreneur Sukinder Singh Cassidy. Her resume includes Google, Amazon, and Polyvore. (Fortune)
Pokémon Go inspires ad agencies. The game’s explosive success could drag digital advertising into the augmented reality age, as businesses seek to associate promotions with real-world locations where the virtual monsters might lurk. Among respected giants scrambling to hire experts are Omnicom subsidiary OMD, Oglivy Worldwide, and Starcom MediaVest Group. (Wall Street Journal)
YouTube pays billions, but the music industry says that’s not enough. Google’s video division figures it has paid $2 billion in digital rights to musicians and songwriters since it introduced systems for combatting piracy back in 2007. Is that enough? The answer is incredibly complicated. (Fortune)
World’s biggest truck maker will use 3D printers for spare parts. Daimler AG has created more than 100,000 prototypes of components like spring caps, air and cable ducts, clamps, mountings and control elements. It will ramp production starting in September. (Reuters)
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has had a very busy 12 months. It’s been nearly one year since longtime Cisco CEO John Chambers stepped down to become executive chairman while Cisco veteran Chuck Robbins claimed the top job.
Within that time frame, the company has gone through many big changes, including a reorganization of its management team, a group of influential engineers leaving the company, new data center hardware and analytics and security software products, and big partnerships with technology titans like Apple, IBM, and Ericsson. During an interview Wednesday at Fortune Brainstorm Tech, Robbins said the world is moving too quickly for him to slow down anytime some. Read Fortune‘s complete coverage.
Plus, many millennials don’t know that PayPal owns the Venmo money transfer app. PayPal’s Dan Schulman is OK with that.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How Licenses and Patent Trolls Are Choking Entrepreneurship in America, by Jeremy Quittner
Here’s Why Hasbro Just Bought an Animation Studio, by John Kell
What Facebook and Apple Need to Realize About Their ‘Terms of Service’ Agreements, by Chauncey L. Alcorn
This Marketing Startup Pays People to Take Selfies, by Heather Clancy
Apple Watch Is Your Favorite Smartwatch—But Just Barely,
by Don Reisinger
The Inventor of the Web Wants Europe to Rescue Net Neutrality,
by David Meyer
ONE MORE THING
Shopping mall takes security robots off the beat. A 300-pound system from Knightscope, used for safety patrols, bruised a 16-month-old toddler in a “freakish” collision in California. For the time being, the mall will idle its entire fleet. (Wall Street Journal)
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.