Pokemon Go seen making billions for Apple

A man tries to catch a Pokemon called "Drowzee" with a pokeball using the Pokemon Go augmented reality app in Berlin, Germany, July 13,  2016.
A man tries to catch a Pokemon called "Drowzee" with a pokeball using the Pokemon Go augmented reality app in Berlin, Germany, July 13, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

(REUTERS) - Apple stands to rake in US$3 billion (S$4 billion) in revenue from the Pokemon Go craze in the next one to two years as gamers buy "PokeCoins" from its app store, brokerage Needham & Co said.

Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game from Japan's Nintendo, can be downloaded for free but iPhone users can use PokeCoins to buy additional features.

A pack of 100 PokeCoins costs 99 US cents in Apple's app store, but the price can go up as much as US$99.99 for a pack of 14,500.

"We believe Apple keeps 30 per cent of Pokemon Go's revenue spent on iOS devices, suggesting upside to earnings," Needham analyst Laura Martin wrote in a client note on Wednesday.

Pokemon Go had 21 million active users in the United States alone as of July 18 - less than two weeks after going live.

The game, which has been rolled out in 35 countries, is also available on Android devices.

Martin said Pokemon Go's ratio of paid users to total users was 10 times that of Candy Crush, the hit game from King Digital that generated more than US$1 billion of revenue in both 2013 and 2014.

Users in the United States are spending far more time playing the game than they are using Facebook or WhatsApp, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Electronics retailers have also seen a bump in sales of mobile chargers and charging cases since the launch of the game.

Up to Tuesday's close, Apple's shares had gained 5 per cent in market value, or about US$25 billion, since the launch of the game in the United States on June 6.

Nintendo's stock has nearly doubled.