What can we say about Rovio that you didn’t already know? Rovio are the developers of the Angry Birds phenomenon which has translated into a business that reaches well beyond just software into real world goods, movies, and even theme parks. Those damn birds are everywhere. You see them on clothes, toys, shoes, hats, even in TV commercials. The game itself was miraculous in that it hit number one a few months after release and pretty much stayed there for over a year. We took a look back when Angry Birds had been number one for 250 days back in 2011.

With the Angry Birds franchise games now downloaded over 1.7 billion times, it’s all because of a little game launched on the App Store in 2009. Let’s talk with Saara Bergström, VP, Marketing & Communications for Rovio about their history on the App Store.

148Apps: How has the App Store changed the way Rovio does business?

Saara Bergström, VP, Marketing & Communications for Rovio: Angry Birds was Rovio’s first title that was published and marketed directly to the audience. App Store was the obvious way to go about it, which was of course a totally different process from doing business with contractors and operators. App Store was a game changer for the whole mobile industry. App Store made independent publishing mainstream for developers for the first time and apps easily available for consumers. Downloading new software became easy and commonplace. 

148Apps: At what point were you sure that the App Store would be a success?

Saara Bergström: A single point is hard if not impossible to pinpoint since there were many contributing factors to it also outside of the App Store. However, it was easy to see the growing popularity of the App Store and how the ecosystem around it started to form very quickly. App Store offered people an easy, one stop shop to get apps, and it levelled the field for independent publishers to get their material out – side-by-side with big publishers. The market has matured from those days and become more professional. The emergence and growth of the whole mobile gaming industry is partly thanks to the ecosystem Apple created with the App Store. 

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148Apps: What led to Angry Birds being such a success? What made it resonate with users so soundly?

Saara Bergström: The success of Angry Birds is a combination of many factors. First of all, the characters have personality and are immediately recognizable. The whole Rovio team liked them right off the bat. Secondly, from the early days we have had a very fan-focused approach resulting in massively engaged fans which has helped us tremendously to expand our business into other areas outside of games. The third contributing factor is the polished, intuitive gameplay which we achieved through a merciless process of honing and iteration. Finally, the game offers hundreds of hours of fun for a wide demographic. 

148Apps: In the five years since launch, the App Store has gone through considerable changes. The number of users has skyrocketed along with downloads, prices for paid apps has stabilized way lower than many expected, free to play has dominated the top grossing charts. If, knowing what you know about the App Store now, you could go back and influence Rovio five years ago, what would you say?

Saara Bergström: I don’t think there’s that much we would change in how we have done our business in the past years. Maybe I would just say: “keep dreaming big!”.

148Apps: Any predictions for what the App Store will be like five years from now?

Saara Bergström: Getting attention was and is of course one of the number one priorities for any developer. When the mobile industry is growing rapidly that challenge prevails. There will probably be new mechanisms and ways for people to find what they are looking for, and for the publishers to reach their target audience and fans.

Many thanks to Saara Bergström for her time.

Posted in: App Store Insiders, Blog

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