How Angry Birds Used Translation To Become Big?

This article is originally published at translation-blog.multilizer.com.

Angry Birds was not an overnight success. The company developed games for 8 years before their birds finally conquered the world. Even the Angry Birds game itself was not immediate success. The sales were pretty slow for several months and it took a lot of work to make it success. One of the most important tricks they used was translation.

Angry Birds entered less-competitive language markets first. After they had succeeded in them the Angry Birds had the credibility and experience to proceed to more competitive markets and to make a deal with Apple which got them from 600th to first in the App Store.

The English speaking market is the most competitive market there is. Smaller language areas offer great sales with less competitors. When you enter less competitive market first you will in effect reach for the “low-hanging fruits”. At the same time you will be able to still polish and improve your product and service before you have full stakes on the table. Consider small language areas as a sort of “semi-final match”; you don’t face the top opponents yet. You also have smaller risks and commitments.

By entering new language areas you not only bypass your competition but you will also increase your total market. Thus you will sell more because you have both more potential clients and less competitors. In the number of native language speakers, there are at least 10 languages with over 100 million speakers (English-speaking market is actually third biggest). Quite tempting possibilities for any niche product!

Isn’t entering other language markets expensive?

For small applications such as iPhone, Android, and other smartphone applications it’s actually extremely cheap. For these applications the biggest cost will be translation cost. For a small application and possible its website the cost is typically in the range of few hundred USD per language (this is a fact!). For small applications technical support or any other services are usually not provided, so the costs are really that low.

Do you think you could invest few hundred dollars and see whether your app has some international, angry potential too?

Recommended reading
http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2011/04/features/how-rovio-made-angry-birds-a-winner?page=all
http://thestartupfoundry.com/2011/03/11/angry-birds-overnight-success-only-took-8-years/

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Multilizer / Niko Papula

I am managing director of Multilizer, a Finnish software company specialising in software for enhancing translation quality, speed and cost.