China’s Angry Birds Copycats Prime the Pump for Rovio
If you can’t beat them, join them, as the saying goes. And that’s exactly what the company Rovio is doing when it comes to Chinese copyright theft of its mega popular flagship mobile app, Angry Birds.
The Chinese are apparently head-over-heals for the Angry Birds franchise, as China is the second largest market for the game with 140 million downloads and counting.
But its popularity has copycats coming out of the woodwork. Unlicensed branding abounds on the internet and in shops across China, and at center of it all is an Angry Birds-themed amusement park in Changsha.
But Rovio is taking the gross misappropriation of its brand as a sign of untapped opportunity, says Rovio’s Chief Marketing Officer, Peter Vesterbacka:
“I really think that it’s a great indicator of the love for Angry Birds that we see here in China. And that’s also when we decided to really go for it.”
Vesterbacka’s strategy – rather than to unleash a gaggle of copyright lawyers – is to take the copycats’ successful ideas and replicate them, sometimes even recruiting the perpetrators themselves.
For instance, an official Angry Birds “activity park” is soon to open in Shanghai, while at the same time legitimately branded stores will be giving the illicit ones a run for their money.
Still, it remains to be seen whether Rovio has hit upon a winning strategy against copyright infringement in China, where so many others – like Disney (NYSE: DIS), Ikea and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) – are still fighting a losing battle.