First Read

A first take on enterprise IT technology news and events.

How Technology Innovation Can Come From an April Fool's Day Joke

Hyperkin unveiled an iPhone attachment on April Fool's Day to turn an iPhone into a Game Boy game player. It was a gag, but it got so much interest, the company is now running with it.

Hyperkin, Game Boy, iPhone 6 Plus, video games

Sometimes the craziest ideas can be brilliant ideas in ridiculous packages. Take the silly April Fool's Day joke that gaming system accessories vendor Hyperkin played on its fans on March 31.

On that day, the company posted a note on Facebook announcing its new Smart Boy attachment that would allow iPhone 6 Plus users to attach it to their smartphones and then be able to play games on the fly using the combined devices.

"This concept art shows that it will attach to the iPhone 6 Plus, turning the phone into a handheld gaming device compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges," the post explained. "It will also feature an eight-way D-pad; two action buttons; a start and select button; and an included battery that can be charged through the phone itself providing 5 hours of gameplay. The gameplay itself will output through the iPhone 6 Plus' own screen."

The post also mentioned that the attachment was so far "only a conceptual design," noting that "features may be removed or added in its current development stage."

The next day, however, Hyperkin posted another note on Facebook, this time letting its customers know that the first post was only slightly in jest.

"A lot of you were speculating that the Smart Boy is an April Fool's Joke," the later post stated. "Well, it sort of was. We 'leaked' it with the initial intent of testing the market, seeing whether or not it should be something we'd actually make, under the guise of an April Fool's Joke."

But that "joke" was on the company because the customer interest in such a product turned out to be significant, the follow-up post explained. "Looks like you awesome folks ACTUALLY WANT IT, so the Smart Boy is now in development! Thank you all for your enthusiastic responses!"

When I first heard about this, all I kept thinking about is how this is a great example of true innovation and creativity coming from the simplest of ideas. Yes, there are already critics posting responses to Hyperkin's posts on Facebook saying that a Game Boy-like attachment for an iPhone 6 Plus isn't needed and that similar emulators already exist, and on and on, but so what?

This was a creative, funny, clever "joke" that also was a thinly veiled marketing ploy involving a gaming product marketplace that evokes deep passions from consumers who love to play video games.

A Hyperkin spokesperson could not be reached by eWEEK on April 6 to detail the company's plans for the new device, but when I do reach them, I'll let you know what they say about their latest innovation.

In the meantime, I hope that other technology companies take a close look at the fun, good will, high customer interest and potential sales that a crazy idea can generate. To me, that's one of the amazing and intriguing things that imagination and bravery have in common. Do something ridiculous and see what happens. Sometimes, it even works.