Rovio Leverages the Mighty Eagle to Break Revenue-Share Standards

Rovio is trying to figure out the best way to monetize its popular Angry Birds game on the Android platform.

Last week, it made its first inroads after launching a pilot with T-Mobile USA that breaks the conventional revenue-sharing agreement first established by Apple.

Currently, a developer’s cut on Apple’s App Store, and most every other platform, is 70 percent. Apple — or in the case of Android, Google — gets the rest.

“We don’t agree on the concept of the 70-30 split,” said Julien Fourgeaud of Rovio, who wears a one-of-a-kind green pig hooded sweatshirt and holds the title of “bad piggy bank manager and magician.”

The arrangement “will not help drive the industry forward. It has so far, but it will have to change,” he added.

Fourgeaud would not say what rabbit he pulled out of his hat, but that the split was “better” than today’s standard. “Our goal is to drive it globally,” he said.

T-Mobile customers playing Angry Birds now will be able to purchase the Mighty Eagle for $1 and apply it to their carrier bill. See the video below for an explanation of what the Mighty Eagle is, but essentially it swoops in to help you when you’ve gotten stuck at a particular level.

It is the first time that carrier billing has been implemented by Rovio, even though it has previously announced deals with others.

Up until now, Rovio had been giving away the game for free on Android and monetizing it using advertising. And until now, Android users were not able to purchase the Mighty Eagle, and all of those not on T-Mobile still won’t be able to.

Rovio is an exception on Android. Other game developers are using Google’s own Checkout to charge for games, or are working with other third parties to enable carrier billing. Google is also signing up partnerships with carriers to enable charges to more seamlessly appear on monthly bills.

However, Fourgeaud says it’s unclear how many Android users have signed up for Checkout, which makes it difficult to justify implementing. That compares to Apple’s iPhone customers, who are required to input a credit card number when signing up for iTunes.

“I’m still looking for those numbers,” he said. “Google has a strategy that is taking more time to implement.”

Rovio’s next step will be to leverage the cost savings it was able to negotiate and create a payments platform that other mobile developers can use. The Bad Piggy Bank, as it is called, will handle in-app transactions using carrier billing.

Still, even with carrier billing, T-Mobile customers will have to take a few steps to play the version of Angry Birds with the Mighty Eagle. The quickest way is by texting “BIRDS” to 6255 to receive a link with instructions.

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