Speaking at this year’s Midem conference, Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio, acknowledged piracy of the firm’s flagship product, Angry Birds:
“We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products.”
Hed went on to say:
“Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day.”
Midem attracts a music audience, but that did not stop Hed from criticizing the approaches taken by the music industry in its efforts to stop piracy. He did compliment an aspect of what he feels the music business did right: treating customers as fans, something that Rovio does with Angry Birds.
The paid versions of various Angry Birds apps sell for very little (US$0.99), but those downloads add up. Having compiled a large installed base, Angry Birds is now seen as a channel, and Rovio is looking at ways to integrate something musical with its apps.
When revenues are growing, I think it can be easier to argue that one can “live with piracy”. Still, Rovio seems to be doing a good job of distinguishing between the instance of piracy, which appears significant, and its impact, which may actually be growing the audience for the company’s free and paid apps.