- Sprint and Pokemon Go developer Niantic have teamed up, making the mobile carrier the first U.S. partner of the augmented reality game, according to a joint press release.
- The deal creates what the release described as a “special Pokemon Go experience” in more than 10,500 Sprint, Boost Mobile and Sprint at RadioShack stores across the U.S., turning them into PokeStops and Gyms.
- Sprint's move follows Japanese mobile carriers like the telecom giant SoftBank, who turned 3,700 stores into Pokestops at the beginning of September.
Pokemon Go was a viral sensation this summer, helping to usher augmented reality games into the mainstream marketing conversation and providing a blueprint for how AR might bridge mobile and real-world experiences. However, media hype about the app has fizzled out considerably since then and, despite the rollout of event-based features tied to key times like the holidays, consumer interest has also shown signs of decline.
One thing in Sprint’s favor is the game is set to have a major update on Dec. 12 that coincides with the launch of the in-store PokeStops and Gyms, adding new Pokemon to the roster that might give fans who are still playing a reason to visit. Pokemon generated more than 500 million downloads and earned an estimated $600 million in revenue in its first 90 days, per VentureBeat, making it one of the biggest mobile games to date. While some of that audience has inevitably lost interest, Sprint could see huge benefits from attracting even a fraction of it.
Reporting by Venture Beat also speculated that the deal could be a marketing win for Sprint since the app is powered by geolocation, and PokeStops and Gyms are typically chosen by GPS data instead of being based around driving foot traffic to specific businesses.