Early on in the Pokémon Go hype cycle, there were signs that players were driving a significant uptick in sales of backup batteries, like the Mophie units you may be familiar with that offer USB connections for topping up mobile devices while you’re away from an outlet. Now, research from analytics firm NPD Group goes beyond early anecdotal evidence to show that in fact, unit sales across the portable power pack segment saw a 101 percent spike in the two weeks spanning July 10 and July 23, as compared to the same period last year.
Overall demand for mobile batteries has been high in general this year – NPD days sales are up 35 percent year-over-year on a 12-month measure as of June 2016. But between that time and the launch of Pokemon Go in early July, the tracker was actually showing a slowdown in sales for the category overall, with only a four percent increase for the six weeks prior to Go’s debut. Total sales for the two weeks where the big Go spike occurred were at almost 1.2 million units in total.
The growth wasn’t necessarily entirely organic: backup battery makers have been pitching press and customers alike hard with the Pokemon Go angle. RAVPower had reps on-hand at a meetup event in San Francisco for the game, and Griffin offered a discount on units to capitalize on similar outings. And in a Fortune article, RAVPower, Scosche and Anker all said they saw considerable uplift in sales for their portable powerhouses.
This is obviously good for companies that make portable smartphone chargers, but its’ not great for users, and not just because of added expense. The batteries that power most of our mobile computing devices measure their effective life in cycles – that is, the more times you fully deplete them and then charge them up again, the shorter they’ll last. Go sessions rapidly reducing charge means more cycles, which means less time until you need to get the battery swapped out or buy a new phone, external powerbanks or no.
But enough fun-policing: The bottom line is that a mobile game with the consumer reach of Pokemon Go can have significant impact on the broader ecosystem, even beyond the realm of people directly targeting the market like companion app makers.