Angry Birds’ Mikael Hed: Piracy Means ExposureBy: Josh Wolford - January 30, 2012
Angry Birds, if you haven’t heard, is a widely popular mobile game that allows you to fling (pissed off) birds at smug little pigs, destroying a bunch of stuff in the process. It’s a whole lot of fun and is one of the most popular games in the world.
Part of that successl, according to Rovio CEO Mikael Hed, can be traced to learning from the music industry’s mistakes.
Speaking at the Midem conference in Cannes on Monday, Hed had this to say:
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.
We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy.
Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day
Basically Hed said that they employ the strategy that says piracy = exposure. If you’re confident in the product, you can be confident that as more people experience it, profits will increase. One theory is that is something is good enough, people will want to pay money for it. Another says that creating fans of your product, even through piracy, can lead to eventual business somewhere down the road.
And to Hed, this has something to do with thinking about customers as “fans” as opposed to users – something the music industry actually got right:
We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. We do that today: we talk about how many fans we have. If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow.
Of course, saying that the music industry mishandled the topic of piracy doesn’t stop Hed from speculating about ways that Angry Birds can work with them in the future. He feels that Angry Birds has become an official “channel” for content – and that can be leveraged to form partnerships with the industry.
What do you think about Hed’s approach to piracy. Can piracy really lead to more business in the end? Let us know in the comments.