Outfit7, the company behind the fast-selling Talking Friends apps, is often compared to Rovio, the successful team behind Angry Birds. But at the pace the company is growing, the better comparison may be to a next-generation Disney. That’s at least what executives are hoping prove true. And they have some impressive numbers that suggest they’re on the way to that goal.
The company said it has hit 100 million downloads of its free Talking Friends Apps, including 40 million of Talking Tom, the most popular of the ten characters in Outfit7′s stable. That growth has happened over the course of 10 months, compared to Rovio, which took a year and three months to reach the same mark with Angry Birds. I profiled the company back in February when it had 72 million downloads, and download pace has only picked up since then.
Outfit7, which was founded in Slovenia by Andrej Nabergoj and now operates an office in Palo Alto, Calif., has found success creating modern day interactive Tamogotchi-like digital toys that respond to people and can be made to repeat back what a user says. As we noted before, Outfit7 has found success building on this toy platform and exploiting its social voice features, which have become popular ways for people to communicate and express themselves. But the company is not content to be a toymaker. It sees its characters occupying the kind of mindshare occupied by Disney characters.
That ambition is best personified in Outfit7′s newest app, Talking Ben, which is poised to be released any day now and introduces a dog to the Talking Friends family for the first time. The animal is imbued with a lot more personality and offers more features, including the ability for Ben to react to people talking to him. The look of Ben is a lot more like a plush toy too. He also appears in two environments, a bachelor pad where he enjoys reading his newspaper and a chemical lab, where he creates different concoctions. Nabergoj said as these characters come more to life, they have the ability to become properties outside of the apps, obviously as toys but perhaps in books, mobile videos and eventually in Hollywood fare, too.
“We think we have a character who can be iconic and capture the hearts and minds of people around the world,” Nabergoj said. “We’re building a next generation company around our intellectual property. We come from a mobile platform but we want to have a shot at bringing our characters to life on other platforms.”
Rovio has talked about similar ambitions for Angry Birds, but Outfit7 arguably has a better chance because its characters have much more personality and interactivity. It speaks to the power of the mobile platform that Outfit7 can dream this big. IOS and Android have not only allowed a set of characters to gain mass adoption, but they’ve also enabled them to become truly interactive characters that can theoretically be used for a wide variety of entertainment purposes.
That’s what’s exciting about mobile. It’s creating new businesses, new brands and new icons that wouldn’t have existed in other forms. If Outfit7 can succeed, it’ll just further underscore mobile’s ability to shape the future of entertainment.
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