You Can Thank an April Fool's Joke for Bringing You Pokemon Go

By Angela Chen on at

Everyone who spent the past week in the throes of Pokémon Go has an April Fool’s joke to thank — or blame, depending on whether you were robbed — for the phenomena.

Two years ago, Google’s annual April Fool’s joke was a Pokémon challenge integration with Google Maps. In its promotional video, a man claims that “using the technology created by the Google Maps team, we’ve prepared the most rigorous test known to man to find the world’s best Pokemaster”

It was fun, it was cute — and it sparked an idea for John Hanke. Hanke is the CEO of Niantic Labs, which developed Pokémon Go and was then still a part of Google. Hanke, having already created the location-based game Ingress with Niantic, thought the concept could be more than a joke and ended up asking the company’s director of Asia Pacific whether the Pokemon idea “could be done in the real world”. I think we know the answer here.

A year later, Niantic was spun off from Google, and after only a few days Pokemon Go is bigger than Tinder on Android. It’s actually astonishing how we’ve reached the point that a prank can became reality. So thanks for this one, Google. Maybe we’ll even forgive you for this year’s failed joke. [Bloomberg]