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Rovio's Best-Selling Angry Birds Tries to Skip Android, Tired of Losing Money

The company behind Angry Birds, the best selling mobile game of 2010, has announced its own direct sales to customers program. Called Bad Piggy Bank, the program avoids the chaotic, underdeveloped mobile app stores and gets Rovio's Angry Birds and future titles onto more phones. While Rovio may be eager to get its games onto J2ME, BREW, and other older mobile application formats, the move is obviously motivated by Android's underdeveloped app store. Google (GOOG) has been standing in the way of its own mobile developers making a profit.

While Google has less development restrictions than Apple (APPL), there are three reasons why the Android Market will remain second choice:

  • Google hasn't fixed anything in months: As Venture Beat notes, discovery tools like app search have been broken for most of 2010, but Google hasn't actually updated the market. The company is finally promising a massive overhaul of the market, but there is no set date. It may be too little, too late anyway.
  • Google doesn't offer in-app billing: Apple has implemented and supported in-app billing for months, making enough money so that some free apps, like Capcom's Smurf's Village, became the highest grossing based on in-game purchases alone. The Android market doesn't have the same opportunities: Apps are either free or pay.
  • Androids are exploiting 24-hour return policy: Consumers can buy an app, return it in 24 hours, and get their money back. It is a problem with gaming, as a hardcore (or cheap) gamer could play the heck out of a title and return it a day later. However, it is equally troublesome with utilities that consumers only occasionally use, like a flashlight app, and can return to the provider as soon as they are done for a full refund. The freemium system has done wonders on the Apple App Store, but Android offers no parallel -- just a super liberal return policy.
It's beyond odd that Google would spend this year pushing Chrome mobile devices, a new cell phone, and even Google TV without a well functioning app market. Rovio (and Apple!) have already made a mint with Angry Birds, but the Android market was so dysfunctional, Rovio actually gave its million-selling app out on Google phones for free. Rovio is now tired of losing money -- and you can bet that other companies are making their own plans, too.

Photo courtesy of Rovio
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