BERLIN– Yesterday at the Next 11 conference, I interviewed Rovio’s Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka on stage. You may know him as the man who brings us all different versions of Angry Birds, Angry Birds toys, possibly an Angry Birds movie, and– as you’ll see in the clip below– an Angry Birds line of hoodies.
He has a big announcement: Angry Birds downloads have topped 200 million. To put that in perspective, another app store darling Foursquare recently reached 10 million downloads.
Of course, while the iPad and iPhone are responsible for much of Angry Birds’ success, the franchise has moved well beyond it. It has already hit five million Web downloads after last week’s Chrome announcement.
I really got an appreciation for how different Rovio thinks from other game studios yesterday. Most of us know that the team developed more than fifty games before hitting gold with the now famous birds and (as he describes them below) the somewhat misunderstood pigs. That’s often touted as an inspiration for entrepreneurs not to give up. But the flipside of it is Vesterbacka knows incredibly well how hard coming up with a blockbuster is, so he’s not committing to being in the serial blockbuster business.
Instead, he sees Angry Birds as a huge entertainment platform that is just getting started. This doesn’t just include merchandize and movies– he’s experimenting with Angry Birds oriented location based services and other schemes to blend the game’s footprint into the real world. See? That Foursquare user comparison I used at the beginning of the post wasn’t quite as random as it seemed.
We’ll be hearing a lot more from Vesterbacka this year, as his ambitious vision starts to play out. He’s particularly bullish about China– where he’s following the model of a Sanrio (ala Hello Kitty) to try to create an iconic $100 million cutesy brand in short order. Vesterbacka tentatively committed to joining the roster of global speakers at TechCrunch Disrupt in Beijing this fall, which will hopefully time up with some pretty interesting announcements for the company. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, video below.