Rovio – Angry Birds

I spoke to an old colleague about Rovio’s success and today read an article on how much they sold during Christmas this year. The Angry Birds game is perfect in its simplicity. The simple game has an underlying story that can be extrapolated into books, cartoons, merchandise, etc. Absolutely beautiful!

My question is what is the future of Rovio? Is this it? Will Angry Birds carry to be the next Pokemon? Or will Rovio become the next Zynga, with an expanded products portfolio, cookie cuttering the success they have had with the birds? I personally think both are worthy goals.

So for either strategy what would be the exit? If Angry Birds are built into a Pokemon, will they be sold to a Disney and made into a theme park attraction? If Rovio is built into a Zynga, will they go public in a big way… in 2013? Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio said, “Disney is worth $60 billion… that is our goal, and there is no reason we couldn’t build a company that size.” Wow… how do you build a 60 billion dollar valuation with through a game fan base? “We will be the first entertainment brand with a billion fans,” he told T&T magazine. So, a billion fans… ARPU…. ok, I’ll bite. Facebook has 800 million members. Their app doesn’t cost anything and is available for virtually any device known to man. “That target sounds like a lot, but we are growing faster than Facebook…’, says Peter. I wont argue with the growth speed, but I might argue with the theoretical market saturation point. Groupon grew faster than anything before and they have hit their glass roof. Pokemon has been hit with Digimon, Bakugan, Beyblade, Yugioh, Skyliners, etc. Even Star Wars is now in on the card collecting action. Don’t think that Angry Birds has blocked the critter catapult gaming market. Just as a few examples… Battlewagon, Crush The Castle, Siege Mover, Sand Castle, Ninja Dogs, Sieger, etc. Granted that all of the above have no character story to expand upon, but my point is that it would not take much to come up with something similar.

So where is the big differentiator? I think its Peter and the team… the company’s greatest assets. They have played the marketing/sales game very well. I have always been a big critic of Finnish marketing acumen, but you could write a book on Angry Birds and that would be the new benchmark globally. Hitting one billion fans doesn’t happen over night and requires years of commitment and continuous innovation… plus luck. Let’s hope the team at Rovio have the stamina for the long haul and don’t get lazy with their newly EARNED wealth.


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