Angry Birds Developer: “Apple will be the Number One Platform for a Long Time”

Peter Vesterbacka, the main developer behind the uber-successful Angry Birds franchise, shared earlier today some thoughts on the various mobile ecosystems his company works with, namely iOS and Android. His game is available on both App Store and Android Market, and more than 50 million users purchased it so far. While Vesterbacka is an advocate of both platforms, he also believes the recipe for success is very different from one to the other. For instance, due to the fragmentation of the Android eco-system, the dual free/paid content model that made the App Store a success “just doesn’t work” with Android. The problem with Android is not the amount of devices, but the actual ecosystem players, as according to him, there are simply too many cooks in the kitchen:
Apple will be the number one platform for a long time from a developer perspective, they have gotten so many things right. And they know what they are doing and they call the shots. Android is growing, but it’s also growing complexity at the same time. Device fragmentation is not the issue, but rather the fragmentation of the ecosystem. So many different shops, so many different models. The carriers messing with the experience again. Open but not really open, a very Google centric ecosystem. And paid content just doesn’t work on Android.
Vesterbacka’s company, Rovio, initially thought that porting its game to Android was going to be a straightforward task, as after all, the iOS and Android ecosystems are very similar at first glance: the phones run the same operating system and use similar hardware, a centralized marketplace is available for developers to post their apps, etc… But Rovio eventually had to change its plans to accommodate the Android market, and decided to target only specific Android models to make its task manageable. In other words, while Angry Birds works with every iPhone out there, it is not compatible with every Android device.
Fragmentation on the device side is not a huge problem, but Steve is absolutely right when he says that there are more challenges for developers when working with Android. But that’s fine, developers will figure out how to work any given ecosystem and as long as it doesn’t cause physical pain, it’s ok.
According to Vesterbacka, Android users have been groomed to embrace the free content model, as the developer quickly gave up on the idea of releasing a paid app, and opted for an in-app advertising model instead. Note that the model seems to be working for the company though, as Rovio’s Android-related revenue is about $1 million per month.
Free is the way to go with Android. Nobody has been successful selling content on Android. We will offer a way to remove the ads by paying for the app, but we don’t expect that to be a huge revenue stream.
Overall, Vesterbacka admits that the iOS platform is superior from a developer perspective, thanks to a more straightforward approach, even if the eco-system is tightly controlled by Apple. And with the launch of Android-based tablets next year, Android could become more fragmented than ever – besides the launch of Android 3.0, one of Google’s top priority for 2011 will be to streamline the eco-system the internet giant created.