SILICON VALLEY -- One month after debuting in the U.S., smartphone game "Pokemon Go" continues to be a blockbuster phenomenon, surpassing 100 million downloads worldwide.
Developed jointly by California-based Niantic and Nintendo-affiliate Pokemon Co., the game hit the U.S. market on July 6, followed by Europe. It made its way to Japan on July 22. The app is now distributed in more than 70 countries and regions, including in entire Central and South America.
Combined downloads on Apple's App Store and Google Play, Google's app and media store, topped 100 million over the past weekend, according to American research firm App Annie. As of Thursday, "Pokemon Go" stood at the top of the App Store ranking. The game was the runner-up among free apps on Google Play.
Although "Pokemon Go" is free to download, players can purchase PokeBalls and other items within the app. App Annie estimates the game earns over $10 million a day in sales.
In Japan, some companies have received a lift from the Pokenomics bonanza. Just before the game debuted domestically, electronics chain operator Yodobashi Camera set up sales space dedicated to selling smartphone chargers and similar devices in all of its stores. Because the app eats up a lot of battery power, recent sales of chargers have reportedly quadrupled from a year earlier.
McDonald's Holdings (Japan) saw July same-store sales jump 26.6% on the year, the company reported Thursday. The operator of fast-food restaurants turned all of its outlets into Pokemon "gyms" and "PokeStops," boosting customer traffic. For Nintendo, sales of Pokemon games released over a year ago for the 3DS handheld console have gotten a shot in the arm.
Benefits can also be seen outside of financial statements. A children's hospital affiliated with the University of Michigan is using "Pokemon Go" for rehabilitation purposes.
On the other hand, the app is also blamed for a number of traffic violations and other woes. In Japan, there were 727 cases between July 22 and Tuesday involving people caught playing the game while operating vehicles. Elsewhere, a New Jersey homeowner is suing three companies including Niantic, claiming that pocket monsters placed in his backyard invited trespassers.