Pokemon Go Is Coming to Apple Watch: Which Brand Will Benefit More?

Each could use a boost

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Among the announcements today at the ongoing Apple Event, one should definitely intrigue retail marketers: Pokemon Go is coming to the Apple Watch Series 2 when the gadget hits the market starting at $369 on Sept. 16.

Pokemon Go was hugely popular in July and early August, and brick-and-mortar merchants loved it because it drove foot traffic. But its momentum among consumers has waned in recent weeks.

It's doubtful the second version of Apple Watch alone can revive the app's thrust. Though Pokemon Go is reportedly going to be updated soon, which could spark renewed interest—which, in turn, may help push Apple Watch Series 2 sales.

Both brands could use a boost, as industry watchers were disappointed with sales of the first Apple Watch. An uptick in interest is certainly the result both players have in mind by marrying the game with the smartwatch.

"It's more likely that Pokemon Go will get a boost from this partnership than the Apple brand," predicted Trevor Wade, global marketing director at Landor. "An endorsement from Apple draws renewed attention to the game and makes it seem cooler, in addition to offering a new user experience. Although people may be eager to try out the new app, it is unlikely that they will buy the Apple Watch solely to play Pokemon Go when they can play for free on their mobile phones."

At the same time, Pokemon Go has been downloaded 500 million times in about two months, which is an insane adoption rate. So perhaps the Apple Watch will benefit from a few million of the game's aficionados wanting it on their wrists.  

"It could possibly benefit Apple if it is hungry for Pokemon Go's audience, which does go beyond the stereotype of teenagers and millennials and reaches into broad demographics," said Falguni Bhuta, vp of communications and engagement marketing at Opera Mediaworks.

Pokemon Go is made by Niantic, whose CEO, John Hanke, took the stage at the Apple Event in San Francisco earlier this afternoon. He claimed players have walked more than 4.6 billion kilometers playing Pokemon Go.

With that in mind, the game's app for the Apple Watch will show how far players need to walk to "hatch an egg," in Pokemon parlance, and it will apparently offer other fitness data and display the points needed to reach the game's next level.

The app will also let players know when a Pokemon character appears nearby thanks to an alert from their wrist—which certainly suggests a more seamless experience compared with a smartphone.

For the uninitiated, the mobile game employs a smartphones' GPS to alert users when they are "in the game," or when Pokemon characters appear on their phone in augmented reality. The concept entices players to move around their locales and earn points by catching such characters.

Stay tuned for updates from the Apple Event, which had just ended at press time.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.