Here’s something you don’t hear about every day, Rovio CEO (Mikael Hed) recently announced that he has very few issues with piracy. According to CNet (by way of The Guardian), Hed told press that the company “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."
Hed was largely addressing a group of media and music moguls when the comment was made, but the message is something that Rovio clearly stands behind. Instead of cracking down on counterfeit Angry Birds products in Asia, Rovio has recently decided to open up a few Angry Birds retail stores. This is a move that is directly in line with the forward-thinking Rovio.
A Different Way of Thinking
Rovio has always done things differently. From the start, Rovio didn’t follow in the footsteps of other video game developers. While companies like Atari pushed out game after game once a hit had been made, Rovio stuck with the Angry Birds game by creating new versions of the game and cashing in on the game’s success. Now, perhaps sensing a near end to the Angry Birds craze, Rovio is welcoming the publicity that pirates might be able to bring.
When viewed from this perspective, it makes a great deal of sense that Rovio wouldn’t lash out at pirates. After all, if one person who pirates an Angry Birds game shares that game with others, Rovio suddenly has more fans that it did before (and, perhaps, these fans will jump on a new Rovio game is one is to be created in the near future). Hed echoed this notion by stating “…if we lose that fan base, our business is done, but if we can grow that fan base, our business will grow." This is a lesson that technology (and startup) companies would do well to mind.
A New Way to Look At Things
From new Angry Birds retail shops in China to a tolerance for pirates, the technology world (and business world, in general) has to wonder what’s next for Rovio. The company that created the Angry Birds hit is growing quickly, though it’s one company that’s not growing in the same direction as any other company out there. Rovio is drawing the line somewhere though. Hed did relate to press that Rovio would begin seeking legal action against pirates if the brand was irreparably harmed or if any harm or deceit would come to Angry Birds fans.
Needless to say, Rovio is one company that has an ethical conscience. In addition to Rovio’s somewhat shocking statement, the company has also announced that it plans to go public in 2013. Aiming for the HKE (Hong Kong Stock Exchange), Rovio is certainly out to prove that the company behind Angry Birds isn’t like all the rest. What do you think about Rovio’s stance on piracy? Is this action justified or is Rovio playing with fire?