Mark off the Boeing Co. as one more place where you shouldn’t be playing Pokémon Go, the monster-catching game that’s been taking smartphones by storm.
It’s not that Boeing has anything against Charmander or those other cute virtual critters: It’s just that the game sucks up bandwidth as well as work time – and also poses potential safety risks.
9to5Mac reported last week that the game was being installed on more than 100 work phones at a large aerospace company, and that one employee almost got hurt due to gameplay distraction. Tweets and follow-ups made clear that the company was Boeing, and that Pokémon Go was added to a software blacklist that bans carrier bloatware apps.
As most everyone knows by now, Pokémon Go is a game that lets players hunt for virtual creatures from Nintendo’s Pokémon universe in real physical space, thanks to the augmented-reality and GPS capabilities that are available on today’s smartphones.
Hordes of players have been spotted roaming through parks and neighborhoods, and even through research centers like Fermilab in Illinois and CERN on the French-Swiss border. The problem is that players can get so caught up in looking at the world through their screens that they don’t pay heed to obstacles that lie just outside their phones’ field of view.
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“We used the Pokémon Go phenomenon as an opportunity to talk with our employees and remind them of Boeing’s strong focus on workplace safety,” Boeing spokesman Tom Kim explained in an email to GeekWire. “As we strive for zero injuries, we prohibit employees from walking and using mobile devices at the same time on Boeing property. This has been a safety standard since 2014. Doing so has contributed to improvements in eliminating distractions and reducing the risk for slips, trips and falls.”
Kim said there’s another reason to ban the app: “We have rules for taking photos on company property and for downloading third-party apps on company mobile devices. Again, this is not about any particular app.”
The game is off limits in plenty of other workplaces, including the International Space Station. But Pikachu, Rattata and other denizens of the Pokémon world have nothing to feel bad about. Pokémon Go has reportedly been downloaded more than 20 million times, and Nintendo’s stock price has more than doubled in the past month.