How to Reach 100 Million Users -- Fast; Are Talking Friends the Next Angry Birds?

How to Reach 100 Million Users -- Fast; Are Talking Friends the Next Angry Birds?

How does a developer get to 100 million apps—fast? If you follow the example set by Outfit7, you create a bunch of apps based on talking characters that apparently so engaging that they go instantly viral in online videos and even get featured on a popular TV show. And you do it all in less than 10 months.

Outfit7 is now trumpeting its 100 million download milestone loudly in a publicity blitz that includes the release of a catchy graphic showing how much more quickly the developer hit 100 million than several other popular apps—including rival-for-cuteness Angry Birds (1.5 years). You have to hand it to Outfit7: These guys really know how to get people’s attention.

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So what’s the developer’s secret? In its official release on the topic, the company credits “lasting emotional connections with millions of people of all ages.” As one of the 100 million, I take some issue with the emotional connection part, but I will admit to being entertained by Talking Tom (he’s the cat who purrs when you pet him, repeat back what you say in a cute voice and also will take a punch and hit the ground without retaliation—thus functioning as much as stress-reliever as lovable companion).

More than anything, Outfit7 captured the attention of consumers, made it easy to get engaged by offering basic apps for free (and then offering to upgrade or selling virtual goods within the apps), and then—when it realized it had a hit—capitalized on the momentum. It did that by adding characters (besides my cat friend, there is now a hippo, a bird, a hedgehog, a dinosaur, a robot, a giraffe, a fairy, a Santa and something called Talking Bacteria John, John & John), by being so ingrained in the nation’s pop culture psyche that Talking Tom made a cameo on the ABC series Modern Family, and by moving its characters into other media: The apps let users record customize videos that can be shared via Facebook, YouTube or email.

Outfit7 CEO Andrej Nabergoj recently told the website Venture Beat that he wants to go all Angry Birds and extend his company’s characters to books, comics and other platforms:

“We want to move them beyond the mobile screen,” Nabergoj said. “We don’t want this to be a fad. That’s why we have a different perspective, offering characters that people can engage with in a social context. Our goal is to be like Viacom or Disney, taking the characters to new platforms.”

That certainly is a huge ambition for a company that is self-funded and—according to Nabergoj’s interview with VentureBeat—has no interest in VC backing at the moment. But given the company’s track record to date—not to mention the trail blazed by its avian predecessors—it doesn’t seem out of reach.

 

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