USA Today recently reported that the average time per day spent on Pokémon Go was 43 minutes. The next highest app on the list was WhatsApp at 30 minutes, followed by Instagram (25 minutes) and Snapchat (nearly 23 minutes). A separate study by eMarketer found that, this year, we will spend an average of 22 minutes per day on Facebook. In translation: we really want to “catch ’em all.”
There are strong signs of success - Pokémon Go is Nintendo’s most successful mobile venture to date. Michael Pachter, gaming analyst at Wedbush Securities, estimated that Nintendo will make £19 million from the app in 2016 (the app has already generated over £1.5 million daily from in-app purchases, making it an overnight phenomenon) with the game securing its status as the largest influence in augmented-reality technology in history. [Editor’s note - Nintendo has an undisclosed stake in Niantic, the game’s developer, and owns 32% of Pokémon Company, which licences the characters.]
However, the company is already facing some issues with the app - it can’t handle the demand. The app’s immense popularity is crashing its servers. All servers were down on Saturday because of the release of the game in Canada. The game frequently freezes or won’t even load. This week, it has been difficult to sign up to become a new player. International rollouts of the game have been delayed while Niantic and the Pokémon Co. figure out how to keep things up and running.
What’s the problem? Well, data efficiency is key, but delivery is complex. To understand this, it’s important to consider the five Vs of data complexity to see why applications, such a Pokémon Go, are struggling to operate in realtime:
The five Vs of complexity
1. Volume - the sheer scale of data we need to access, distributed across many services and systems.
2. Velocity - the speed at which data is being generated, the blurred lines between consumer and producer, and the need to move data in real-time.
3. Variety - the ever-growing differences between data resources (structured and unstructured), data models and data locations.
4. Veracity - the unknowns, inconsistencies and fragmentation of data that are making it increasingly difficult to harness.
5. Value - the inherent business opportunity that exists within and between data sets, and being able to unlock this value at the right time.
Scale must not compromise event-driven performance
Augmented reality requires real-time app experiences. For Pokémon Go, this means being able to find and catch more than a hundred species of Pokémon as you explore your surroundings or join a “gym” at particular locations so you can work with team members to build strong defences.
All of this requires real-time data to be sent over the internet and between users. Just because an app has 350,000 people in the UK jumping on the network before the official launch, doesn’t mean it should break down.
A more intelligent approach to data efficiency
Apps freeze and, whether it is keeping up with the Euro Cup final score or during an important “gym’”battle, it is clear people need real-time responses. Performance, scale and stability are the fundamental concerns for any developer. The answer to these problems is to implement data integration and delivery technologies that can reduce the impact your data has on the network and reach new levels of data efficiency.
In today’s world, delivering real-time messages must be in the centre of app development. Developers must find a way to build apps with scale in mind, as demonstrated by the five Vs of data complexity, while not compromising data-driven performance. If not, the app runs the risk of losing the battle.