Disney on steroids?Will the mobile industry be the platform for the next Disney? In 2009 game developer Rovio released the game that would bring them phenomenal international exposure. Angry Birds is unarguably one of the most successful mobile games of the touchscreen era. To date there has been more than 700 million downloads of Angry Birds in total – making it the most downloaded game ever. And breaking the unimaginable billion downloads mark is probably not impossible.
To gain such a widespread popularity so quickly was made possible thanks to the mobile industry’s global platforms (networks, devices and application stores). Rovio promptly seized the opportunity fame brought, and started to include in-game advertisements into the free versions of the game. Much thanks to this, their latest game “Angry Birds Space” was downloaded 10 million times in the first three days.
Rovio has stated that they aim to grow to the size of Disney, and to breed a long standing pop culture icon among the likes of Mickey and Donald. And this game developer is seriously working on it - … building a franchising empire with plush toys, books, clocks, clothing, bedlinen, to mention a few items, and with announced plans to create Angry Birds activity and theme parks. The enraged birdies will also be seen in Disney’s home ground - in an animated TV series and in a feature length movie next year. This move is supported by the purchase of Kombo Animation Studio last summer and a recent acquisition of Futuremark Games Studio.
The game developer is aggressively applying the learnings from (mobile) digital distribution to its expanding franchising business. Rovio is using Amazon as one of their sales channels in order to create a global physical distribution and based on this success they have managed to close contracts with retail giants like Wal-Mart for both digital and in-store channels to distribute their merchandise.
Currently Rovio’s proclaimed value is several billion USD while Disney’s market cap is near 75 billion USD, so there is still quite a gap to close, but time will tell us whether in this mobile era an "entertainment house" would be able to pull it off, and if so, even more interesting is to see how quickly they will achieve this. Instagram mobile social photography network created value of one billion dollars prior to celebrating its second birthday – wouldn’t have been possible without the global mobile ecosystem. Neither would Rovio be where they are today if there wasn’t this huge global mobile platform to feed upon. There is certainly something in Rovio’s attitude, operating and distribution model that could teach lessons to the rest of the telecom industry suffering from lack of growth…
Suvi is a Senior Consultant at Northstream
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11 Apr 2012