Just over a month ago, I made a bet with a venture capitalist that Pokémon Go was a fad. I predicted it would begin falling in the app charts within the month.
My rationale was that we’ve seen viral fad apps come and go many times before. (To name a few: Chatroulette, Highlight, Secret, Frontback, Meerkat, Ello, Yo, Stolen, Peach.) What’s more, they seem to come and go with increasing velocity. Years ago, a viral hit might have six months to ride its trendiness. Now you get a week. We cycle through fads faster than ever.
It appears that I have lost that bet. Pokémon Go remains atop App Annie’s rankings for downloads in the Google Play Store in most geographies. In the App Store, it has just begun to fall from its spot as the No. 1 overall app in the last day or so.
The sustained dominance of the game proves that there is hope for consumer Internet startups, even though it feels like funding them has gone totally out of vogue (alongside e-commerce and, in short order, digital media).
It makes sense that investors are wary of the category. How can a new app compete for attention with Facebook, which alongside Instagram, commands 50 minutes of its users’ time per day? And we know the App Store stats: Around 90% of the 1.6 million App Store apps are essentially un-discoverable. A full 94% of revenue in Apple’s App Store comes from just 1% of all publishers.
Pokémon Go proves it’s possible to break out, and if your app is good enough, you’ll have a month or so to try to turn it into a business. But there’s also the danger of being too good. When I made my losing bet, I had another prediction that might prove to be true: When people abandon Pokémon Go, it’ll be because it was too engaging. Like Turntable.fm, the game requires your full attention, and a lot of it. It’s great for hardcore fans, but casual players won’t stick around for long.
BITS & BYTES
Why Microsoft’s new deal with Lenovo matters. The two companies have agreed to cross-license mobile patents under a deal disclosed Monday. That makes Lenovo unique among the big Chinese smartphone companies. The personal computer maker will also preinstall Microsoft’s core apps, including Office, Skype, and the OneDrive storage service, on some of its “premium devices.” (Fortune)
Tableau enlists former Amazon exec as new CEO. The business analytics software pioneer named Adam Selipsky as its new president and CEO. He replaces co-founder Christian Chabot, who will continue as chairman. The swap comes as Tableau shifts to prioritize sales to larger companies. (Fortune)
Oracle’s hardware chief picks up cloud duties. (For now.) Dave Donatelli, the executive behind the tech giant’s “converged infrastructure” effort, is filling in for Shawn Price, Oracle’s senior vice president of cloud. Price, a former SAP executive who joined Oracle in October 2014, is taking time off for an unspecified reason. (Fortune)
Happy birthday, Linux. The open source operating system, which powers most of the world’s supercomputers and a huge portion of its data centers, turns 25 years old on Aug. 25. With age comes credibility: Just 7.7% of Linux developers today are unpaid for their work on the project. (Ars Technica)
Delta reinvents luggage tags. The airline is spending $50 million on radio frequency identification technology including scanners, printers, and radio tags that should make it easier to trace checked bags. The trackers will be in place soon across Delta’s entire system. It should help the airline put its embarrassing reservation system failure this month in the past. (New York Times)
Influential parts suppliers Delphi, Mobileye team for self-driving cars. The two companies sell sensors, mapping software, and other technologies instrumental for guiding autonomous vehicles. They are partnering on “off the shelf” systems that could be used for everything from sports cars to pickup trucks and could be on the road by 2019. Separately, GM spinout Delphi was one of the investors behind a $90 million round Monday for sensor startup Quanenergy Systems. (Wall Street Journal, Fortune)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Kobe Bryant Adds to Venture Capital’s Women Woes, by Kristen Bellstrom
Microsoft Bought This Startup to Make Scheduling Meetings Simpler,
by Heather Clancy
Apple Acquires Health Startup Gliimpse, by Don Reisinger
Here’s What Your Instagram Feed Says About Your Mental Health,
by Michal Addady
Why This Rare Apple I Computer Could Fetch $1 Million at Auction,
by Don Reisinger
ONE MORE THING
Tokyo wants to turn old smartphones into Olympic medals. Organizers plan to mine “electronic waste” such as cast-off cellular phones and other obsolete electronics gadgets to collect precious metals to be used in medals for the 2020 games. (Nikkei Asian Review)
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.