Angry Birds boss doesn't see app piracy as a problem - it might even help business

In a recent interview, Rovio CEO Mikael Hed said that app piracy isn't a huge threat to their signature title, Angry Birds. In fact, it may help increase their popularity. Hed draws a lot of parallels to the music industry, and sees suing your fanbase as fundamentally "futile".

"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. ... Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day."

This is pretty smart on Rovio's part, since they don't just have a stupid little slingshot game now - they have a brand. That brand is proving to be way more valuable for cartoons, merchandise, and cross-licensing (like the case with Rio) than as an iPhone app. It's on these fronts that Rovio is staying agressive.

"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,"

While Angry Birds might be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to app store success stories, Hed's mindset here should show that publishers should always be thinking beyond the app. There's a big world outside of mobile apps, and the more of it developers can latch hooks into, the more relevant their software becomes. Of course, I would imagine less successful developers have much smaller margins for their apps, and nowhere near the same popularity with which they could viably sell shirts, plushies, or other branded goods. No doubt they're hit much harder by app piracy than Rovio.

Source: The Guardian

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

Angry Birds boss doesn't see app piracy as a problem - it might even help business


I read this as "Angry Birds boss doesn’t see app PRIVACY as a problem" amd got really really pissed. When I started reading the article I was rather confused.

Now why can't the Movie and Music industries realize the same thing? I mean, even if you pirate that stuff in North America, real good fans will pay to see you and buy ur merchandise still...

The people who pirate, most would not have paid for the product anyways. Word of mouth is good advertisement, if they talk about how good it was others who may have not known about it will purchase the product.

Piracy is a problem, however u look at it. Even if it's virtual merchandise, you should not be able to say that: stealing store merchandise is OK, because it's not. If you are to see a positive attitude about it, lets say 100% of your merchandise or services are pirated, tell me now what is that fan-base going to do to your business.
Im not saying i dont pirate whatever, we have all done it somehow, but promoting it as the slightest of any good it's going to the wrong direction and bad education.
Considering we are living in a virtual era in development, we should encourage the younger to to follow the rules society have established.

The young can figure out which rules to follow, and what they can get away with for themselves. They don't learn to pirate from their parents, you know, being perfectly capable to learn from their peers.

The last paragraph says it all. It is easy to dismiss piracy when you are already popular enough to be making millions.
Half the battle with stores like the iOS App Store is simply getting noticed. There are lots of good games for 99¢ where the company treats customers well, but they just haven't had the exposure that Angry Birds has and see piracy eating into their meager profits.
In certain cases piracy can help popularize media similar to word of mouth and viral marketing, but Rovio had lots of help from all the platform developers advertising Angry Birds as a fun game on their respective devices.

Aside from the moral implications (piracy is essentially theft), I think it depends on whether the 'product' is 'pop' or a more specialized thing. If it is a 'pop' thing, then the social-networking aspect will probably mean that pirating might increase the revenue brought it (piracy ends up providing an advertising factor which outweighs lost sales). However, for more specialized products (ie: a CAD app is a good example), piracy usually ends up equaling a lost sale.

I pirate. By which I mean that I download but not upload nor do I share further. I am not able to afford all that I use and would otherwise have to wait until films were heavily chopped up by the censors to view over 'free' airwaves. Or music not sold in my country city or town. And books which shall never reach that store which is now bankrupt, closing its doors forever. That being said, nearly 9/10ths of my downloads never make it to any public source of availabilities, whether music films or books. I realize this is not a justification but what I sell myself on.
I am not the cause of their losses. If illegally uploaded materials were not available I still could not afford these few luxuries which connect me to my neighbors friends and acquaintances. Something so small that connects me to my fellow man on such a basic level that I am able to envision beyond my squalors and refocus on a brief glimpse of the future.
I am not a criminal. I am not a product of these times. I am not ashamed.
I will continue.
To use by methods as long as I am able. To enjoy my freedoms as long as they exist. To live my life by my rules. Tyia, (:u)

Chris, do you have a 3rd party app that changes your profile when you holster your device? Otherwise I have no idea, thats really strange how my app could affect your profiles.