The recent phenomenon of Pokemon Go has led much of the tech community to ponder how augmented reality applications can be used for commercial purposes. In this recent example, a local pizzeria made an in-app purchases to attract Pokemon to its location, attracting hungry gamers along with it.
Pokémon Go has managed a feat that has eluded brick-and-mortar merchants for years: turning location-aware smartphones into drivers of foot traffic. Shop owners' hopes of garnering sales through mobile devices have been dashed by disappointments such as beacons, a technology backed by Apple Inc. and others that can target shoppers with discounts and other offers based on location data. As of last year, however, Forrester Research found that just 3 percent of retailers were using the software. An augmented-reality game such as Pokémon Go, powered by GPS capabilities on every smartphone, has the potential to deliver where beacons failed. It's easy to imagine a developer selling ads within the game world to local merchants, or even auctioning off the promise to turn specific shops and restaurants into destinations for players.