Outfit7’s Talking Friends series of apps has reached one billion downloads.

Seriously. The talking cat apps that feature characters like Talking Tom, later expanded out to a host of other characters, have been downloaded over one billion times. That’s an absurd number of downloads, and the series continues to look upward and outward, as it continues to expand from just being an entertaining toy app to something more substantial. I spoke to Outfit7 CEO Samo Login about this milestone.

148Apps: Did you ever imagine that you’d ever get anywhere near this point, getting one billion downloads with your apps?

Samo: I would say that when we started, that was one of our objectives. It sure seemed a lot with seven billion people in the world, but we didn’t set any limits where we should stop. So far, we have doubled the number of downloads every half-year, roughly. I spoke to a guy [recently], he can see us getting to two billion, but four billion would be a challenge! [laughs] I don’t think so because we are introducing new apps, so I don’t see a problem with four billion, so, why not?

148Apps: What is it about the Talking Friends series of apps that you think has led to this kind of success versus some of the other “talking cartoon-y character” apps that are out there?

Samo: I think that our objective was always to create something funny, and we invested always a lot into quality [with] all these apps, not only the graphics but the whole user experience. And I think that users notice that. It’s something that for sure, always differentiated us from other companies that had created talking apps.

We also plan in the future, always, some kind of hidden educational aspect, especially for preschoolers. If you create an app that’s a straightforward educational app, the kids can smell it. It’s like when you teach a child something, if you just cover it up into something funny and entertaining, the kids will have fun and learn about something at the same time. That’s the added value that we intend to give our users with our apps in the future.

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148Apps: So really with your apps and going forward in the future, you’re really trying to use the likability and the familarity of these characters to branch out into other kinds of apps, but to also have, maybe to say, positive goals to them?

Samo: Well, we learned about our characters that we were lucky from the beginning. I wouldn’t say we have actually planned it. It’s pure luck that we have picked up Tom and later characters that are easily lovable, and people can really connect to. So we already developed a series of webisodes in partnership with Disney, and a couple of music videos also in partnership with Disney Records, and our audience really loves them. The webisodes have over one hundred million views on Youtube, and the music videos also.

So obviously our audience wants all different kinds of entertaining content, not just the Talking apps. And for sure, we’ll be working in this direction in the future to create different kinds of apps, mostly with entertaining but also some gaming content to bring our characters into movies, music, merchandise, to increase the number of touch points are audience has with our characters.

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148Apps: So this is something where you’ve taken this simple idea of, this kind of talking cartoon character that people can interact with, and now you’re bringing it to all sorts of new avenues, taking it to places that seem unexpected with the launch of the original app, but here you are.

Samo: I would say ‘unexpected’ when we started, then when we saw the power of our characters that with big distribution we’d compete with TV, with one billion downloads of our apps, and over 170 million monthly unique users, we actually compete with TV stations. And with apps, it’s much easier to get to a global distribution, than with any other technology before. So we are taking this from here, expanding this into other verticals, which is in my opinion, a logical next step. We didn’t expect it at the very beginning, but later on we became aware there is much more behind our characters than just talking apps.