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Angry Birds hits 140M downloads, Rovio boss says iPhone changed everything

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At most companies, if a product development meeting started with the spiel: “I’ve got an idea for a game. It involves some birds. And they’re all livid because some green pigs stole their eggs,” then the boss would probably respond with: “Go and have a lie down.” Not Rovio. When the developer of Angry Birds outlined the game’s concept, the boss more than likely came back with: “That’s a ridiculous idea. Go do it.” It seems that the developers at Rovio Mobile don’t think outside the box. Because there isn’t even a box.

An article from IDG News indicates that the Finnish company’s creative masterminds have been duly rewarded. According to a Rovio executive, the bird-based game has now been downloaded a squawking 140 million times. Yes, one-hundred-and-forty-million, although by the time you’ve finished reading this article it’ll be more like 141 million.

Apple Insider, meanwhile, has reported that Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka (aka the Mighty Eagle), speaking on Wednesday at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing, pointed out that the Angry Birds franchise is behind only Disney and Hello Kitty when it comes to China’s most copied brands – something he’ll likely have mixed feelings about. Vesterbacka talked about Rovio’s plans for China and spoke of “setting up a local operation and investing a lot into creating special versions of Angry Birds” for Chinese users.

Turning to Rovio’s success, he said that much of it was down to Apple, saying that before the iPhone and App Store, developers were unable to reach their fans because of restrictions put in place by carriers and handset makers.

“Apple brought out the iPhone and it changed everything,” Apple Insider reports Vesterbacka as saying at the Beijing conference. “Apple created the distribution for us that we didn’t have before. All of a sudden, great games mattered. We are seeing smartphone growth explode, and we are riding that wave.” Commenting on the Android OS, Vesterbacka said that he saw “fragmentation of the [Android] ecosystem” as an issue. “The carriers [are] messing with the experience again.”

Angry Birds, a simple but highly addictive game, was released by the Finnish company in December 2009. It is popular around the world and is available on multiple platforms. The game sells for 99 cents on the iTunes App Store, though a free version is also available.