Angry Birds is one of the biggest mobile app phenomenon’s of all time. Approximately 18 million people have downloaded this app in total, around 7 million of which were paid. It was the number one paid app in Apple’s App Store for what seemed like forever and it has greatly enriched the bank accounts of those involved in its development. Rovio are the Finnish firm responsible for Angry Birds. Contrary to popular opinion, Angry Birds was not a global success that came out of the blue. In actual fact, the app with the subject of painstaking trial and error as the firm tested the app on possible customers on a number of occasions.
According to the CEO of Rovio, Mikael Hed, the characters were the real starting point. In early 2009, they stumbled across a mock screenshot of angry looking birds with no legs or wings stumbling towards a pile of blocks. Although they didn’t understand the game mechanics, they did like the look of the characters. They decided to create a game based on these characters but paid approximately?90,000 just to start up the project. The company have spent well over half a million pounds in the development of Angry Birds including all the updates. This certainly shows that cutting corners is no way to create and market a successful app.
The company admits that the relatively low popularity of iPhone apps in Finland paradoxically worked to their advantage. Very few purchases saw it hit the top 10 and then it went to number one for a number of weeks. Soon, Angry Birds also went to the top of the Swedish app charts and suddenly, Rovio felt that they had a hit on their hands.
Another interesting point to note about Angry Birds is that its developers didn’t really use traditional advertising. As they were only charging 99 cent for the app, they felt as if it didn’t really make sense. The company insists that they take great pains to reply to every email and tweet and feel that this was an important factor in the game’s success. Rovio feels that they owe the game’s success to word of mouth as friends passed on details of the game to others. The company also feels that the social aspect of the game helped its success. At present, Rovio are deciding on whether they wish to bring Angry Birds to Hollywood where they have already had offers. They report that the merchandising side of things is going extremely well too.
The success of Angry Birds shows that would-be app developers have an incredible amount of competition and they need to figure out how to eliminate luck from the equation. Creating a great app is not enough. You also need to have the app marketing skills to show the world how good your creation is. Instead of shrinking when you face competition, you must rise to the challenge to have any chance of being a success. Angry Birds was not an overnight success. Years of planning went into the project. The marketing side of things was brilliantly executed with very little reliance on luck.