Piracy is Good For Business: Who Said That? Angry Birds, That’s Who!
If you own a smartphone, chances are you have Angry Birds running on the phone, even if you never launched the app yourself. What would the creators of the game think about piracy? You'd be surprised…
Regardless of the industry you work in, counterfeiting or unauthorized distribution is something you'll have to learn to live with. The biggest difference is how you treat the end customer – are you going to punish or educate the customer. While MPAA and RIAA are hell bent on punishing the customer, even when that customer is U.S. Congress, or the actual offices of MPAA and RIAA themselves, there are companies that strive on educating the customer and expanding their own ecosystem to cover counterfeited products as well.
One such example is Rovio Mobile and their Angry Birds franchise. At Midem 2012 conference in Cannes, France, CEO of Rovio Mobile Mikael Hed stepped forward and made a daring statement: "We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There are tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which are not officially licensed products," continuing with "we could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy."
Seeing multi-billion dollar companies like Valve, Blizzard as well as music artists actually thriving on changing their business models to protect their own content and yet protect the consumer at the same time is the right way forward. Digital distribution channels created tens of billions of dollars in revenue which did not exist before.
"Already our apps are becoming channels, and we can use that channel to cross-promote – to sell further content," Mikael said. "The content itself has transformed into the channel, and the traditional distribution channels are no longer the kingmakers."
The conclusion of his speech was "Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day."
The problem with RIAA and MPAA model is ultimately, it is more about the control of the user than the control of who owns the content – given the number of artists who have their own parallel channels of their own content distribution. But the companies like Rovio Mobile can challenge the counterfeiting and piracy, educate the consumer and earn ton of money in the process. Will it account for lost sales – they certainly would. But they will be too busy counting the money earned by customer education.