What Angry Birds Can Teach Us About Innovation

Case 1: 6 PM, I’m home after work and relaxing with my 6 and 4 year old sons. We are laying on the balcony and everyone is playing on iPhones or iPad the same game: Angry Birds.

Case 2: Sunday morning and one of the boys just realized which day is today – it’s the day when new Angry Birds Toon is available! Let’s see the new episode!

You already figured out that I’m one of fans, but let’s dive deep into the Angry Birds makers philosophy. Finnish firm Rovio is the creator of this mega-popular brand started 4 years ago with a smartphone game.

When the game was launched, developers spread the word about the game to friends with iPhones(in Nokia based Finland there wasn’t been too many iPhone in these days). Fast, the game become #1 on Finnish AppStore. During Winter Olympics one Swedish skier had an accident and in the TV interview he sad that it will be very boring to sit alone in the hotel room, but fortunately he have Angry Birds – and the game reach #1 on Swedish AppStore. Next stop was UK and USA… When the game reached #1 on AppStore it stayed there for 300 days.

So how Rovio made it? Before Angry Birds they had 51 games, they learned a lot from previous projects and analyzed hundreds of games before this big launch. Also, the ecosystem was too hostile for a startup before AppStore launch. Market wasn’t ready before AppStore. It’s important to mention that the text was eliminated from the game and they made it so easy to understand the game and play it. Much time was given to details – there was 30 different designs only for an App Icon.

The fastest growing brand is not only the game, now it’s the big range of physical products and also cartoons. Rovio now have the biggest animation studio in Northern Europe – they launch one cartoon weekly. Over the night they made the audience of 1,7 billion people which have one of Angry Birds games on their device. Astonishing, isn’t it?

I was happy to be in their headquarters in Espoo, Finland and had the opportunity to ask questions. What I thought to ask, was reflecting to ‘Case 1′ from the beginning of this article. “Why Angry Birds can’t be played against other players ?”, but then I remember that few weeks in the past, Angry Birds Friends was on the market! Well, Rovio is apparently ahead of their fans, surely ahead of me!

Next thing? Educational books, activity parks… let’s see…

(image: Luke Skywalker from Angry Birds Star Wars, taken by author)

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