Angry Birds forever!

02 May,2012

Angry Birds Space visual Courtesy


Henri Holm is the Senior Vice President at Rovio Entertainment, the creators of Angry Birds. Holm, a Harvard alumnus, has extensive international management experience in consumer electronics, mobile internet, manufacturing, distribution, retail and brand management. At the sidelines of the recently concluded MTV Youth Marketing Forum 2012, MxMIndia’s Robin Thomas caught up with Henri Holm  who spoke at length about his India plans, India as a market for gaming and of course about Angry Birds and much more.


You had said that it took Rovio Entertainment eight years to be where it is today. Tell us a little more about your company and your journey so far?

Rovio Entertainment is a company which has grown very fast. We grew from a 12 people organization to over 300 plus professionals as of today. In our operations we cover mobile gaming, entertainments which include animations, books and publications, education content or edutainment, merchandising, licensing and sponsorships. In the entertainment space, we also cover advertising, so we are a major premium advertising channel provider. Globally, in fact, our ad impressions reach over 10 billion. It’s a company of young people who believe in their course, who neither give up nor give in.


There are talks about the slow death of console gaming in India with the onslaught of mobile gaming especially with 3G and 4G coming in. Would you agree? Is the next phase of gaming coming from mobile?

Console gaming is not necessarily as scalable as mobile gaming because I think it caters to a different set of audience or different media consumption or entertainment consumption. The mobile devices, including the tablets, are always with you and you can consume the game anytime anywhere, so the industry is certainly changing.


Can you please throw some light on the entire thought process behind the Angry Birds concept? How did it come about?

Everything started from the fact that the company has gone through 50 plus games. Being an audio manufacturer, we didn’t own a brand, we wanted to have our own IP and we wanted to build a brand. The thought process started with the characters and with distinctive personalities in those characters. The story was unique too, it was not a me-too story, and besides, the mechanics of the game itself was about simplicity, quality and paying a lot of attention to the details.


You also said that Angry Birds will continue forever and that this is only just the beginning… How do you intend to stay relevant to the audience?

Yes, we feel that this is just the beginning for us. Angry Birds as a brand, and as a story, will definitely continue. Every three to five weeks we try to keep the game relevant and innovative or new for our audience. However this does not mean that we will not be looking at other games or characters or stories, it’s just that we need to find the right time to introduce something new.


Where is the Angry Birds audience coming from?

Today’s audience primarily comes from the android and IOS platforms, however there are other very significant platforms besides the androids and IOS. So today we can cover all operating systems in mobile devices ranging from the smallest screens of the feature phones to the largest of the screen which are the tablets. So the mobile space is certainly growing the fastest. When you move away from the mobile to the web we cover the operating systems where Chrome has been leading the web experience supported by flash and now the social gaming like Angry Birds on Facebook. So each one of these platforms needs to be looked after individually and what is important is that we present the channel and the content where the fans are. So, if the fans are moving primarily into one operating system or one type of access into the content, we move with it.


What is the role social networking sites have played for the success of games? According to a survey, young people in the west visit social networking sites only for friends and not necessarily brands…

We are an entertainment company and we engage our fans on social media so, we are living social media 24×7 and we are participating in conversation all the time. Our business is about the fan engagement, delighting them and therefore I believe that social networking sites play a huge role in the success of any brand.


What is the business model of Rovio Entertainment? Is it advertising led and how much has Angry Birds contributed to its revenue share?

We have different business units, we have the games business unit, entertainment business unit and merchandising and licensing business unit. Each one of them contribute their own revenue but, they also complement the entire brand experience and the brand presence because of the huge opportunity to manage and monetize the brand. So our business model is purely based on the fan and the brand.


How has 2012 welcomed you? What are your business plans this year? When you compare it with 2011 how has the growth been so far?

In 2011 we launched one game and this year we have already launched two and have several more to go. The year 2011 was about building the infrastructure and the making the organization ready, 2012 on the other hand is about finding the right partnership and making the entire business ecosystem stronger and more global.


So are you looking for more expansions and new partners?

We are constantly looking for new partners and expansions as we need to build a very robust business and country plans before this.


What is your view on India as a market for gaming and for your business?

India is a very important market for us, as of now we are scouting for partners and once we find the right partnerships here it will give us better footprint and presence. We are looking for partnerships in the media space, in the digital distribution space, operators, and the major brands and all the big movers and shakers in the country.


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