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Asia Minute: Pokemon Go Sends Nintendo Shares on a Wild Ride

YouTube Via CC Commons
YouTube Via CC Commons

It’s been less than a week since the latest mobile gaming craze has hit the country---including Hawai‘i. “Pokemon Go” has captured nationwide attention—but in Japan it’s drawing a different kind of focus. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Pokemon Go combines real life locations with the challenge of capturing characters from the anime world of Pokemon….all by way of your smart phone.  It was released as a free mobile app last Wednesday in the United States, Australia and New Zealand---sweeping to the top of lists of most popular apps and daily usage time.  Pokemon—short for “pocket monster,” has been around for 20 years…starting on Nintendo’s Game Boy…but the mobile app is what’s excited gamers—and now investors. 

Wall Street analysts have been scurrying to update their Nintendo notes faster than you can say “Pikachu.”  Nintendo shares closed Monday trading up 25% on the day …up nearly 60% from last Wednesday.  Both Morgan Stanley and Australia’s Macquarie Securities anticipate a strong launch in Japan---where the app hasn’t even been released yet.  Deutsche Bank still rates Nintendo a buy—with an upside of nearly 20%.

But investors with a memory will recall Nintendo’s stock has been through ups and downs in the past—such as when excitement about the WII console crashed when sales leveled off.  In a sense, gambling is part of the corporate DNA—the company started off making playing cards in Kyoto in 1889.  Its first big-money game was hanafuda.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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