The Happy Birds: Success Story of Angry Birds

Published in Marketing & Strategy Articles category by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: May 02, 2012

In 2003, three students from Aalto University School of Science and Technology, NiklasHed, JarnoVäkeväinen, and Kim Dikert participated in a mobile game development competition sponsored by Nokia and HP. A victory with a real-time multiplayer game motivated the trio to set up their own company, Relude which in January 2005, after receiving investment from an angel investor, and the company changed its name to Rovio Mobile. Rest is history.


In this era, where mobile phones have become “smart”, Rovio Mobile is one of leaders in mobile gaming and capitalized growing Smartphone market. Following stats proves the same.

  • 500 Million ->Angry Birds reached a new milestone of reaching Half a billion downloads (On November 2, 2011). As of now, it has more than 700 million downloads across all platforms.
  • 300 Million ->minutes played a day on a global scale
  • 266 billion+ -> Levels of Angry Birds have been played
  • 400 billion-> Birds launched into action
  • 44 billion->Stars collected in the process.
  • 10,676,004 -> Fans on Facebook (as on December 14th, 2011)
  • 3 Million+ -> Angry Bird plush toys and about 30 million T-shirts have been sold (Source – Official Website)

How Angry Birds Became Happy Birds?

As marketers, we tried to analysis their success story. The success story can be attributed to following points

Enough Homework Done

Rovio Mobile didn’t become what it is today overnight; it took them 8 years to be what they are the usual ups and downs that occur in software production. The founders of Rovio Mobile Ltd had also collected a reasonable amount of basic capital before in other businesses before they started this project. Angry Birds was launched on the appstore Dec 2009, which after a slow start became number one in Finland, then Sweden, number one in UK in April 2010 and then there was no looking back.

They built team of experts with more than 5 years of game making experience. They were willing to take risks.At times, there were moments when it seemed that all the inputs and capitals would be nullified. The team that created Angry Birds was 12 people, now Rovio is 50 people, quite a change in 12 months.”  - Peter Vesterbacka, Maker of Angry Birds

Simplicity of an Idea and Greatness of Product

No idea is small. This is visible in Rovio Mobile’s case. JaakkoIisalo,  game designer came up with his idea to build a game around birds as everybody loved the birds, so it was decided to build a game around the birds. It was developed in 8 months with huge deviation from original idea(this is the power of implementing of idea).Ithave been number one since in 77 countries including UK and US. The product simplicity and success is equivalent to “Snakes”. Both appealed to wide range of audience.

Angry Birds is optimized for touch experience. The greatness of product is proved by the fact it won three major awards, Webby Award (New York based International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences in May 2011), "Best Game App" & "App of the Year" (UK Appy Awards) and best Finnish game (the Finnish Association for game industry In November 2010). Angry Birds, their shot to success, is an excellent combination of addictive gameplay, comical style, and low price.

Viral Marketing

It is a form of latest marketing technique that uses pre-existing social networks to increase in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of actual viruses. It targets word of mouth or by social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. They created a self-fulfilling prophecy, with support of the user community that wants to be a part of it. Their advertisement became a pandemic across internet. Their advertisement had all component of being a successful viral advertisement i.e.  original, brief, amazing, non obvious.

The other famous example of viral marketing are Emptiness and Why this Kolaveri Di.

Customer Retention

“Cost of acquiring one person is five times more than retaining one customer”

Rovio mobile keeps updating for free in every 4 months. It is their main focus apart from downloads. Rovio has released numerous free updates that add additional game content, and the company has even released stand-alone holiday and promotional versions of the game. There have been 3 major updates to app. The Appstore and App Market is one of most competitive market place and in order to survive fierce completion, Rovio puts lot of efforts in marketing and branding. They collaborated with Samsung by creating a special level in an Angry Birds Seasons edition titled ‘Summer Pignic'  when they launched Galaxy S2.

This article has been authored by Chetanya Rajput from Amity Business School.

Views expressed in the article are personal. The articles are for educational & academic purpose only, and have been uploaded by the MBA Skool Team.

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