LeWeb10 Mikael Hed Rovio and Angry Birds

Mikael Hed, CEO, Rovio behind the best selling mobile app Angry Birds
Q&A with MG Siegler, Founder, LeWeb

WARNING: Liveblogged, some paraphrasing..maybe missing bits. Video at end of post.

Mikael Hed
Photo from Adam Tinworth

MG: so what was the story
MH: started off with a single drawing of birds and a concept of blocks etc. We did not like the game but love the characters and ended up designing around it.

MG: how it’s going?
MH: 12million paid, 30million free

MG: you did the android version, for free
MH: we looked at the market, we saw that not all customers were able to download through android market. we wanted to make sure all had access to the game. the paid apps not available in all counties, nor on carriers. So we did advertising

MG: was that surprising 1 mill month in advertising?
MH: we knew how much people play, we know restarts of levels, we had an idea of how well it could do. I think there will be more advertising revenue based, as a great way to capture users for a long time in 1 app, i think it will complement tv, radio etc.

MG: are you thinking of doing a version on the iphone? (ie with ads)
MH: it’s possible, but commercial model is working there, everyone can buy

MG: you posted [on blog] about performance issues for some of the android devices etc? Apple are trying to frame it as a fragmentation problem…
MH: it’s not too much of an issue. Our background is in Java, we are 7 yrs, done 53 games, we have a way of easy porting across platforms, it is familiar to us. It is an issue, takes manpower and we can’t always support all of them, eg older have too small a processor.

MG: is is the processor/memory or the Android? so hardware rather than OS
MH: anything from 2 upwards is fine

MG:
you are committed to making a second version…
MH: we may do that…less graphics

MG: the other platforms? Windows said they would have Angry birds
MH: we are actively looking at Windows Phone 7…they announced a little too earlier

MG:
the chrome webstore? anything within browser?
MH: interesting, we are looking at that

MG: advertising or payment?
MH: it remains to be seen how wide the payment coverage. as long as it works, it should be good., the revenue split is interesting

MG: what about FB?
MH: yes,interesting, now the trend to have more gameplay element, it starts to be a favourable timeto get into it.

MG: how did the toy aspect come about?
MH: a member of the advisory board, Peter Levy, introduced us to a licencing agent, we made deal very early this year and set out strategy, looking at not to overexploit. now we are seeing the first products to market. We have sold out, waiting for more stock

MG
: cross selling?
MH: we do have a button on game, very visible,

MG: are you involved those costumes that Loic wore?
MH: no, it is interesting how it has become a mainstream phenomenom, we received 100s of images from Halloween?

Loic the Angry Bird
Photo by Adam Tinworth

MG: how about consoles…
MH: next year we will move into consoles. it is a more traditional business model, but more interested in download model

MG:
are you looking at ways to tie them all together?
MH: we are, building a backend system to allow devices and people to communicate, to store progress across platforms

MG: what about movies? you made a statement about interest?
MH: we have looked at it closely..but it could take up to 4 years, we are looking at something faster. Focused on smaller screen…

MG: What about what’s next?
MH: 12 [people] at start of year, now 40 and expanding. all manpower on making different versions. Now we are working on also new titles.

MG: would the strategy be the same?
MH: yes, we are looking at game quality. we would rather do less quantity and high quality.

MG: in terms of the team expanding quickly. How are you guys doing in terms of revenue etc
MH: we don’t need more money…we could not figure out where to put extra money, one of things against investment. There is a lot of interest, maybe we figure out more ways to spend the money

MG: no doubt, there was a lot of talk about aquisition..is it insane the number of approaches
MH:
I like that kind of interest, it is good to have that kind of talks. but we want to build our own company.

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