We're just days into the craze surrounding Pokemon Go, the popular mobile gaming app based on Nintendo (NTDOY -4.75%) characters. It's put out by Niantic Labs, a company that Alphabet (GOOG 0.31%) spun off late last year but one where it continues to have a financial interest as an investor in the augmented reality specialist.
Nintendo and -- to a lesser extent -- Alphabet are clearly winners here. Nintendo stock has soared this week following the brand-awakening title's success. Pokemon Go may not be as big a needle mover at Alphabet, but it's not a coincidence that players need to register and log into the game through Google accounts. As the monetization opportunities turn to local businesses wanting to stand out as Pokestops or gyms, it's fair to say that Alphabet will play a prominent role.
However, let's talk about three companies that are benefiting from the craze right now.
The leading online retailer may seem to be an odd beneficiary of a hot mobile game. After all, with Niantic encouraging players to purchase experience-enhancing virtual items directly through its marketplace, it cuts out third-party merchants.
That is certainly true, but have you seen what walking around looking for Pokemon does to your smartphone's battery life? The app is a power hog, and this is going to force players to snap up portable battery chargers and other accessories. It might encourage people to upgrade to new smartphones with longer battery lives. Amazon.com (AMZN -1.43%) will be there.
Amazon may be in the afterglow of the bar-raising Prime Day success on Tuesday, but it's likely selling a ton of gadgetry that extends the lifespan of mobile devices.
Verizon and AT&T
Let's lump the final two stocks together, because as the country's two leading wireless carriers, they are connected at the hip of the meatiest Pokemon Go catalyst. Let's talk data plans. Folks using their smartphones at home or work are often tethered to the available Wi-Fi connectivity, but it's a different story when you're taxing your phone's GPS features in the wild.
Pokemon Go isn't a game you play in the coffee shop or library where you can mooch off the proprietor's broadband. The exploring process is going to tip the scales for folks on limited data plans, and that's pretty much what Verizon (VZ 0.03%) and AT&T (T -0.35%) are offering these days with their capped shared or individual data plans.
If you spend some time out at a Pokestop or a gym -- or if you're just walking around with the app running to help incubate your eggs that are budged along as a result of distance traveled -- you're going to be slurping a lot more data than you were doing before. This is going to result in chunkier mobile phone bills, even if you swore that you weren't going to spend any money via Niantic on virtual items.
Verizon and AT&T seem to have been prepping themselves for a day like this. They have stopped subsidizing smartphones, offering hundreds of dollars to folks locking into two-year contracts. Now smartphone purchases are merely financed through monthly installments for those who can't spring for the steep retail prices. They have been weaning customers off the unlimited data plans whenever possible. All they needed to have this all come together was a mobile app that wasn't Wi-Fi-tethered to run up data. Pokemon Go is that platform.