'Angry Birds' maker Rovio: 'Piracy may not be a bad thing'
Rovio Mobile, the startup behind the blockbuster mobile game Angry Birds, said it is tackling piracy by learning from the mistakes made by the music industry, adding that content providers can also leverage intellectual property theft as a springboard to attract more fans.
Rovio's Hed said some pirated products could help expand the Angry Birds fanbase.
"We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products," Rovio CEO Mikael Hed said during an appearance at the Midem conference in Cannes, France. "We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy. We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. We do that today--we talk about how many fans we have. If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow."
Hed said Rovio believes it is "futile" to attack pirates using the legal system, except in cases where their efforts damage the Angry Birds brand or fleece its fans. He went on to say that some pirated products can help expand the Angry Birds fanbase: "Piracy may not be a bad thing. It can get us more business at the end of the day."
Hed went on to say that with users spending so much time playing Angry Birds, the game can serve as a launching pad to promote other products. "Already our apps are becoming channels, and we can use that channel to cross-promote--to sell further content," Hed said. "The content itself has transformed into the channel, and the traditional distribution channels are no longer the kingmakers." Hed added that Rovio has already entered talks with record labels to explore promotional partnerships.
More than two years after its initial release, Angry Birds remains a phenomenon, and was 2011's most downloaded mobile app across all stores and operating systems, according to app marketplace analytics Distimo. Angry Birds--which brings to life the epic battle between a flock of vengeful birds and the green pigs that stole their eggs--is available for download from all major stores except Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry App World.
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