Looks like Rovio is not the only mobile content company that wants to catapult itself into being the next Disney of the entertainment world. Outfit7, makers of the popular Talking Friends series of apps, has signed a deal with William Morris Endeavor for the talent agency to help put its various characters on TV, into films and in books.
Outfit7, makers of the best-selling Talking Tom Cat and the newer Talking Ben the Dog, says that collectively its apps have been downloaded more than 135 million times.
The basic premise of these apps — currently only available for iOS and Android — is that each features an animated character that responds to your voice and also gestures you make on the touchscreen of your device. Outfit7’s characters, which average around 15 million downloads per month, have benefited from a bit of viral marketing, as users have created clips of their characters and shared them on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) and email, with some 400,000 clips uploaded on YouTube alone.
Does popularity on a mobile platform hold enough currency to get a brand a big break on more traditional platforms? That has been the premise adopted by Rovio, developer of the most successful mobile game of all, Angry Birds, which has spun itself into a merchandising power house (next up: a cookbook about eggs).
But there is a notable difference between Rovio’s approach and that of Outfit7: while Talking Tom Cat has gone to Hollywood and signed with an agent, Rovio looks like it is trying to control as much of its progress as it can itself: that egg cookbook is being self-published, and it looks like the first films that will come out of the Finnish content house will be produced by themselves, courtesy of animation studio Kombo, which it bought earlier this month.
All things being equal in the world of cute mobile entertainment characters, it will be interesting to see which, if either, approach works best. Bon Appetit.