Apple should probably thank the Pokemon Go phenomenon for the billions of dollars in sales that are expected to come into its coffers from it. According to estimates from Needham & Co. Managing Director Laura Martin, as Pokemon Go expands into more countries, it could generate $3 billion in revenue for the Cupertino-based giant in the next 12 to 24 months.
Apple’s ecosystem to credit
Pokemon Go achieved a penetration rate of 6% of the U.S. population in just 10 days, and Martin predicts that there will be around 20% penetration of the U.S. population at maturity.
On CNBC’s Halftime Report, Martin said, “I think the point is that while Nintendo has gone up 20 billion and they do have IP risks, Apple does not.”
“It is hedged because the next genius that makes a hit game, Apple shares on that one too. So while this one may be transitory, Apple has an option on all future hit games over the iOS platform,” the expert said.
According to Martin, the iPhone maker is successful because of its ecosystem business structure and other revenue generators like the App Store. Martin added that the tech giant has higher returns on capital than Facebook and higher profit margins than The Walt Disney Company, and therefore, the idea that it could be valued as a hardware company just because it makes phones is flawed.
“Those margins are only achievable because it does have these ecosystem benefits like ‘Pokemon Go’ to route its ecosystem to a much higher margin,” Martin says.
Pokemon Go to generate billions for Apple
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game made by Niantic Labs using the Pokemon intellectual property owned by Japanese game and console maker Nintendo. The game can be downloaded for free, but iPhone users can, however, use PokeCoins to buy additional features. In the App Store, a pack of 100 PokéCoins costs 99 cents, but the price goes up to $99.99 for a pack of 14,500. In a client note on Wednesday, Martin said they believe Apple keeps 30% of Pokémon Go’s revenue from iOS devices.
In less than two weeks, Pokemon Go had 21 million active users in the U.S. alone. The game is available on Android devices as well. Martin further explained that the ratio of paid users for Pokémon Go is 10 times that of Candy Crush, a hit game from King Digital which generated more than $1 billion in revenue in both 2013 and 2014.
Since the launch of Pokemon Go in the U.S., Apple shares have gained 5%, or about $25 billion, while Nintendo’s stock has nearly doubled.