CHIANGRAI TIMES – The Angry Birds developer, Rovio Entertainment, has only one problem: a large portion, if not most of the revenue from the supplementary merchandise sales ends up in the pockets of other people. Owing to the fact that there is not enough official Angry Birds merchandise available to satisfy the demand, the manufacturers of counterfeit products have seized the opportunity and cashed in.
At the moment we are surely the most copied product in the world”, says Rovio director of merchandising Harri Koponen.
The counterfeiting has reached massive dimensions because the product is so popular. For example in the United States we are the number one toy in almost every single one of our featured categories.
Apart from Asia, the counterfeited Angry Birds supplementary products are flooding the market in South America, certain African countries, and even in the United States.
Towards the end of last year the NYPD arrested forty or so merchants of counterfeited Angry Birds products in New York’s Chinatown.
Is this a question of Rovio having failed to prepare for the immense popularity of the related merchandise?
No, you can’t say that. We did prepare for this”, Koponen says defensively. Our suppliers increase their output continuously, but it is impossible to fill every gap. And when gaps appear, others will exploit them.
For example the production volumes of the cuddly toys have risen dramatically. We do as much as we possibly can.
According to Koponen, Rovio is willing to take a constructive stand towards piracy.
The aim is to rid shops of dangerous products and products of poor quality immediately, but as far as the rest is concerned the company is willing to negotiate.
If a product is good, we can negotiate with the manufacturer to see if we could turn it into a legal product”, Koponen explains.
The aim is to come up with a worldwide network of licensed merchandise manufacturers.
We cannot get rid of all illegal merchandise. That would be an unrealistic goal”, Koponen admits. “We just have to get the balance right, so that most of the merchandise being sold is legal and only a fraction is pirated products.
Koponen refuses to estimate the monetary value of the illegal Angry Birds merchandising.
There is such an unbridled amount of products out there that giving a numeric value to it is utterly impossible.
Of the sales of the official merchandise, Koponen agrees to reveal only that its monetary value is still below the revenue from the original product, the Angry Birds game.
According to the latest information, the application has now been downloaded to something like 600 million mobile devices worldwide.
There are still plenty of challenges and things to do, but we are quite satisfied with the sales of the related merchandise. It looks like a proper business activity and the profitability is good.”
Another aim for Rovio is to set up a worldwide network of official Angry Birds stores.
The first such store was launched in Helsinki’s Jätkäsaari district in November, and plans have been drafted to open a couple more outlets in Finland. Overseas Rovio does not seek to open its own stores, but is merely looking for franchising partners.
The concept has now been tried and tested and we have an idea of what works and what doesn’t”, Koponen says. “Soon we will have outlets in various parts of the world. China is surely where things will happen next.