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The mobile game developer says it's too much work to technically support it

Rovio's hit mobile game Angry Birds has a new member of the family -- Angry Birds Space -- and while Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system get to offer the hot new game, the Windows Phone platform is left out.

Angry Birds is undoubtedly one of the most popular apps in the mobile realm. Rovio reported that the app hit 500 million downloads in late 2011, but its popularity doesn't stop there. Angry Birds merchandise such as plush toys and T-shirts were released, and as of fall 2011, one million plush toys and one million T-shirts were being sold monthly. The game even reached into film deals with 20th Century Fox and plans to open its first retail store in Helsinki. Some reports say the game will reach one billion cumulative downloads in the next few months.

With this kind of popularity, it's easy to see why makers of mobile handsets and platforms want the game to be featured on their devices. Rovio launched Angry Birds Space just yesterday, which is the latest addition to the Angry Birds family that was made in part with NASA in order to offer all new realistic space features within the game, and tech giants want a piece of what will likely be another knockout game. It offers new birds, new moves/tactics and a whole new space-like setting.

While iOS and Android-based phones were able to launch Angry Birds Space in their respective app stores starting yesterday, it was discovered that the Windows Phone platform would be left in the dark due to the fact that it's too much work for Rovio to support it.

"If you look at activations, Apple's iOS and Android are clearly bigger than any other platform," said Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer of Rovio. "We want to be on all screens, but we have to consider the cost of supplying to smaller platforms. With Windows Phone it's a lot of work to technically support it.

"We're the No. 1 app in the Windows Phone app store, but it's a big undertaking to support it, and you have to completely rewrite the application."

While this seems like potential trouble for Microsoft, it's an even harder blow to Nokia, which is attempting to revive itself by making smartphones for the Windows Phone platform. Without hot apps like Angry Birds Space, this could put the handset maker in a tough spot because it shows that big game developers like Rovio do not have much confidence in the viability of the platform.

Microsoft plans to expand Windows Phone into developing economies with cheaper smartphones, which is an area widely untouched by Apple or Google.

Rovio mentioned that it plans to release four more Angry Birds games by the end of 2012, and if its attitude toward the Windows Phone platform doesn't change, both Microsoft and Nokia could fall far behind in the mobile realm.

Updated @ 1:23pm
Now, Rovio's CEO is saying that Angry Birds is coming to Windows Phone according to Reuters. "We are working towards getting Angry Birds Space to WP7," said Rovio CEO Mikael Hed. This statement directly contradicts that of Rovio's CMO. Perhaps a little better communication between the two should be in order...

Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters

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No native support is the problem
By Freddo on 3/23/2012 10:47:30 AM , Rating: 2
This is the main problem with Windows Phone, you can't create native software with C++ and so on, but is pretty much restricted to C# and VB (and a few minor others).

RE: No native support is the problem
By gamerk2 on 3/23/2012 11:01:03 AM , Rating: 5
Apple isn't any different though; They do the same thing with Objective-C. And I note, according to Tiobe, C# is now more popular then C++ anyways, making your argument moot.

RE: No native support is the problem
By Freddo on 3/23/2012 11:21:05 AM , Rating: 3
Objective-C isn't really much different. You can code almost a whole program once for both iOS and Android, and then you need to do a complete rewrite for Windows Phone. Something developers clearly don't feel is worth the effort, as noted in this article. Support for C++ would fix that.

RE: No native support is the problem
By LgndKilr on 3/23/2012 11:37:12 AM , Rating: 2
Luckily the next release of windows mobile seems to be addressing this issue, by allowing support for native apps. Previously companies had to have a close business partnership in order to get access to the C++ development kit. The majority of us were stuck with rewriting your app to work in .NET.

RE: No native support is the problem
By InvertMe on 3/23/2012 12:21:43 PM , Rating: 2
Windows Phone :)

By Mitch101 on 3/26/2012 10:09:57 AM , Rating: 2
Why do Android and iPhone users care so much about us Windows Phone users? Angry birds is not the end all be all of apps and it will be out soon enough for those who care.

RE: No native support is the problem
By tayb on 3/23/2012 11:43:21 AM , Rating: 1
Java and C# are extremely similar. In fact if we are talking about all three languages the odd one out would be Objective C, not C#. All three languages are similar in their own ways, however. None of the languages closely resemble C++ in syntax or in use but if we were to pick the one that were the closest it would be Objective C. I do not understand why it would be any more of an undertaking to port to C# than it would be to Java or the other way around.

It's been a few years since I've developed in Objective C or Java so maybe porting tools between the two have drastically improved.

RE: No native support is the problem
By LgndKilr on 3/23/2012 11:48:50 AM , Rating: 2
Thing is most games are written in C++ which you can do on iOS & Android (via NDK). Currently Microsoft have locked down the Windows Phone Natve SDK to publishers, or companies they have close partnerships with

RE: No native support is the problem
By tayb on 3/23/2012 12:02:47 PM , Rating: 1
The Native SDK for WP has existed for about a year I believe. I have a hard time believing Microsoft would say no to Rovio if they requested the NSDK. Or maybe they did?

RE: No native support is the problem
By Flunk on 3/25/2012 12:08:14 AM , Rating: 2
It will be available to the public when Windows Phone 8 is released later this year.

New one sucks and it's overpriced
By tayb on 3/23/2012 10:44:37 AM , Rating: 2
The new game sucks on multiple fronts. It's incredibly easy compared to previous versions and they are major price gouging on the iPad. It's $2.99 for the game and then half the levels are paid level packs. What a sham. I tried it out on my Droid X to see if it was worth the $2.99. It isn't.

RE: New one sucks and it's overpriced
By Cheesew1z69 on 3/23/12, Rating: 0
RE: New one sucks and it's overpriced
By tayb on 3/23/2012 11:45:00 AM , Rating: 2
Obviously, or I wouldn't have posted that opinion. Why even waste time pointing that out.

By kattanna on 3/23/2012 11:47:38 AM , Rating: 4
because you dared to have a negative opinion on something someone else loves.

RE: New one sucks and it's overpriced
By Cheesew1z69 on 3/23/2012 12:04:14 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, why waste time thinking your opinion is of the utmost importance.

RE: New one sucks and it's overpriced
By tayb on 3/23/2012 12:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
The irony here is overwhelming.

RE: New one sucks and it's overpriced
By Flunk on 3/25/2012 12:09:41 AM , Rating: 2
$2.99 is almost nothing. That's coffee and a bagel money.

Xbox Live Arcade
By chmilz on 3/23/2012 10:35:00 AM , Rating: 2
Am I missing something? Shouldn't there be some massive library of better-than-Angry-Birds games coming out for this device through MS own service?

RE: Xbox Live Arcade
By gamerk2 on 3/23/2012 10:59:06 AM , Rating: 3
What makes you think XBL arcade titles, designed for a Xbox 360 running on a PPC platform, would be able to run on a phone using a totally different CPU architecture and with significantly fewer processing resources?

RE: Xbox Live Arcade
By Manch on 3/24/2012 8:21:12 AM , Rating: 2
I read it as why arent they usinh there resources from that to push out games for win phone. Live could very well leverage there resources to het those same debelopers to make companion games. Better yet an onlive style system to play games on the phone. Its doable. Onlive "console" is just a marvell chip found in some late model smart phoned

How to get out of the hole?
By cigar3tte on 3/23/2012 10:55:27 AM , Rating: 2
But how can Microsoft recover though? The lack of developer support isn't necessary the cost and difficulty, but the lack of user-base.

If there aren't enough users for Windows Phone, it's not worth developing for, but you can't increase user-base w/o good apps.

RE: How to get out of the hole?
By InvertMe on 3/23/2012 12:28:57 PM , Rating: 3
The user base is growing fairly fast now. Lumia phones constantly sell out on almost all carriers, WP devices are number 1 rated on Amazon, the Radar is the #3 selling phone on tmobile and to quote tmobile "No one returns the Radar".

The Lumia 900 should be released on AT&T in a few weeks and that will be followed with a massive marketing campaign.

Yeah they could sell more but things are looking good.

Check your facts...
By djdjohnson on 3/23/2012 11:42:45 AM , Rating: 5
It sure would be nice if Internet "news" sites checked their facts before posting...

Re; The update from the CEO
By integr8d on 3/24/2012 3:04:31 PM , Rating: 2
It's funny how Steve Balmer's checkbook can motivate a person. That's probably all the guy wanted anyway.

By EricMartello on 3/29/2012 4:10:06 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure this is exactly what led to Rovio's "change of heart"...but I do like Windows Phone and I want to see it succeed.

Update needed
By InvertMe on 3/23/2012 12:09:32 PM , Rating: 3
Turns out they are making Angry Birds for WP - please update your story.

content before everything else
By Nortel on 3/23/2012 10:47:30 AM , Rating: 2
How can windows mobile even compete if app developers shy away from supporting their platform. At this point Microsoft would have to kick in millions of dollars in incentives, perhaps even offer dedicated code porting teams to translate the iOS/android code to windows mobile. Unfortunately if this happens it would already mean they are grasping at straws and are artificially keeping their dead platform afloat.

The Blackberry marketplace (before android) is a good example of how the lack of apps can kill smartphones in today's day and age.

By Argon18 on 3/23/2012 11:47:38 AM , Rating: 2
It's a compelling argument against Windows phone, the whole re-building the app from scratch part I mean. Android and iOS are both UNIX-like platforms, which means most apps can be ported from one to the other with very little work. I've never developed a phone app, but Linux/UNIX OS's in the server OS market all make a strong effort to be POSIX compliant. POSIX compliance means they all fundamentally have the same architectural design, and it makes porting software from one to the other a piece of cake, in some cases, requiring nothing more than a recompile of the code. Porting one of these apps to a proprietary Windows OS is a large undertaking, and required almost an entire re-write of the application. I certainly can see why they don't want to put forth the effort, even more so when you consider the tiny single-digit percentage of the market that Windows phones occupy.

By Trisped on 3/24/2012 2:45:45 AM , Rating: 2
...and you have to completely rewrite the application.
This is of course false. It is much easier to port from Android to Windows Phone 7 then to/from the iPhone. If you are running on Android then you are probably running on Java which is very similar to C#. In fact, I had to port a small program once and was surprised to find with the exception of the capitalization of s in "string" the program worked without issue. Of course you could also use a converter or use the existing code as pseudo code and perform a line by line port.

While it might not be quick or easy, porting Angry Birds to the Metro UI where it will be playable on Windows Phone 7 and on Windows 8 is a no brainer for a multi-million dollar company.

Angry Birds Raptured!
By Orac4prez on 3/26/2012 3:06:12 AM , Rating: 2
Loved the Graphic! Left Behind is a christian end times series of novels in which christians are raptured (ie taken to heaven) in the first book. Angry Birds in Space seems to fit so well with that!

Angry Birds finally raptured to heaven!!! Some would say about time...

By p05esto on 3/23/2012 9:54:55 AM , Rating: 1
Playing games is the LAST thing I want to do on my phone. I have an Xbox, PC and Tablet (TouchPad) to do those things. Games on a 4" screen is boring and not the best fit.

I think many people are addicted to searching for and buying apps, they don't use the apps they have very much. At some point common sense will prevail and shake these devices out for what they really are what they are good for... such as making phone calls perhaps?

content before everything else
By Nortel on 3/23/2012 10:47:30 AM , Rating: 1
How can windows mobile even compete if app developers shy away from supporting their platform. At this point Microsoft would have to kick in millions of dollars in incentives, perhaps even offer dedicated code porting teams to translate the iOS/android code to windows mobile. Unfortunately if this happens it would already mean they are grasping at straws and are artificially keeping their dead platform afloat.

The Blackberry marketplace (before android) is a good example of how the lack of apps can kill smartphones in today's day and age.

This is why
By corduroygt on 3/23/12, Rating: -1
RE: This is why
By loboracing on 3/23/2012 12:14:38 PM , Rating: 5
I agree, just like the Xbox will never catch up to Nintendo or Sony.

RE: This is why
By Cheesew1z69 on 3/23/12, Rating: 0
RE: This is why
By corduroygt on 3/23/2012 1:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
Apple and Google are not Sony, since they are just as well versed in operating systems and online services as Microsoft.

RE: This is why
By Camikazi on 3/23/2012 6:54:04 PM , Rating: 2
Well Sony was better versed in consoles while MS had pretty much no experience, yet MS did catch up. On this front MS has as much PS experience as the other 2 they just need to learn to shrink the OS for phone and they can catch up, I hope Apple doesn't underestimate MS they did it before and look what happened to them.

RE: This is why
By corduroygt on 3/23/2012 7:31:25 PM , Rating: 2
The only experience Sony had was in hardware manufacturing and it took millions of faulty consoles before MS caught up. Not to mention Sony is a horribly managed company compared to Apple and Google.

RE: This is why
By Skelum on 3/25/2012 8:52:43 AM , Rating: 1
Agreed to Sony's management but let's extend the comparison...

Sony: Hardware manufacturer
Microsoft: Software development

Game console results: Microsoft is making more profits than Sony...

Apple: HARDWARE manufacturer.(They are not making money with OS)
Google: Service providers(Advertisement)
Microsoft: Software development

Here, Google is going to make money no matter which OS is used. They just going to make more if it's Android. Microsoft have to sell their OS. I think their entry point strategy should be the Tablets. They game Nokia 1 Billion to use WP on their phones. Then, Nokia started to manufacturer tablets...

Tablets and laptops will probably merge into hybrids in late 2012/2013. Then you will be able to take your Office suite on the go and all your legacy apps...

So I think Apple might get left out of the podium if they don't find other revenues sources... Perhaps patents are their target...

RE: This is why
By Etsp on 3/26/2012 1:02:17 AM , Rating: 3
If you think the hardware is Apple's only money maker, you have no idea. Each and every app sold in the Apple App store gives them a cut. Every song, video, movie, book sold in iTunes, Apple gets a cut. Their primary moneymaker is their platform, not their hardware.

Full disclosure: I own 0 Apple products.

RE: This is why
By Skelum on 3/26/2012 12:56:50 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected.

You are right... Apple is making alot of money on other sources of revenues.

That being said, they don't really open theses sources to other devices besides Apples' hardware which still makes my point partly valid. I will never go to the Apple sore or itunes store on my android or windows.

RE: This is why
By poi2 on 3/24/2012 8:21:43 AM , Rating: 1
by loboracing on March 23, 2012 at 12:14 PM
I agree, just like the Xbox will never catch up to Nintendo or Sony.

I disagree,
you don't carry Xbox in your pocket everyday

RE: This is why
By Totally on 3/25/2012 5:03:26 PM , Rating: 2
You disagree...but you follow up with an agreeing statement.

RE: This is why
By adiposity on 3/23/2012 2:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
Now I don't care for Angry Birds, but this looks bad, because people will think, if it doesn't even have the new Angry Birds game, which is popular, it's probably missing a lot of apps too, and avoid buying WP7.

The fact that it's even a question is a problem with WP7. I don't care if WP7 gets angry birds space, but the fact that it was even an issue tells me not to take the platform seriously.

It is sad that Angry Birds has become a benchmark of system viability, but if you don't have the most popular phone game in the world, you do lose some relevance.

RE: This is why
By Flunk on 3/25/2012 12:06:01 AM , Rating: 2
That's what they said about Android a few years ago, and the iPhone before that. We don't all use Blackberries today, even though it looked like it was heading that way in 6-8 years ago.

RE: This is why
By Skelum on 3/25/2012 8:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
Just wait when hybrid laptops/tablet make their entry on windows 8. Then gradually, everyone will want to have a Windows phone.

Everyone I ask the question would like to merge their tablet and laptop. None of them would like to run iOS or Android on it...

Wait and see...

By tekzor on 3/23/12, Rating: -1
RE: ouch
By tayb on 3/23/12, Rating: -1
RE: ouch
By jnemesh on 3/23/2012 10:51:21 AM , Rating: 1
Really? "Way too early in the game"??? By this time in its life, Android had claimed 20% of the market. Microsoft will be lucky to break 3%, they are currently sitting at 2.5%. People are reacting very negatively to Metro, despite what you personally think. EVERYONE I have talked to HATES it on the Xbox, and the customers I deal with on a daily basis who deal with home technology on a daily basis HATE the implementation in Windows 8.

Let me ask many more months or years do we need to wait before declaring this platform a failure? It certainly didnt take the tech community this long to bury WebOS, or to condemn RIM's Blackberry platfom. How long is long enough?

RE: ouch
By tayb on 3/23/12, Rating: 0
RE: ouch
By c8m on 3/23/2012 12:10:19 PM , Rating: 5
This story is false. According to Reuters: Rovio CEO says they are working on Angry Birds Space for Windows Phone.

Great news for Windows Phone owners. Xbox Live achievements incoming!

RE: ouch
By Souka on 3/24/2012 2:13:13 AM , Rating: 2
" It certainly didnt take the tech community this long to bury WebOS, or to condemn RIM's Blackberry platfom."

It didn't take long to bury RIM?

RIM is still far more popular than Windows...still has a sizable market share, and was only just recently passed in Canada by iOS devices.

Yes Android/Apple stomped on RIM quite hard...but it didn't happen overnight.

If I had to choose one type of device it would be:

Work cell: Apple, Windows, Android, RIM
Home cell: Android, Apple, Windows, RIM

In other words, Apple for its "fun"-ctionality (home) and manageability (IT control at work).

My $.02

I've owned smartphones for over a decade...changing carriers, brands, makes, models about every 3 months as I'm in IT and evaluate/plan/deploy them for where I work).

RE: ouch
By Obujuwami on 3/23/2012 12:32:42 PM , Rating: 2
I find your response funny....since Windows 8 is only in a beta.

I think what you meant to put was withe Windows 7 or IE8 and, as someone who supports enterprise networks, I do also hear that people don't like IE 8 and Windows 7. Interesting thing is that most of those people don't like the computer, or don't want to learn something new, or have a technical snafu that IT can't compensate for without using XP mode (old software). Over all, since deploying Windows 7, I have had a generally positive response to it and people think it's much nicer than XP. I do get some complaints about IE8 and 9, but those are generally training issues, and are resolved quickly.

I, personally, support 2 HTC Trophies and they are quite nice. I like the interface but the app store is terrible. I also support Andriods and iPhones (I own a HTC Thunderbolt) and I like the Windows interface over all of them.

One thing we should thing about, and thats everyone who works in tech, is where are we going. Tablets are going to be the next real battleground for MS, Apple, Google, and any other players that want to get involved. Plus, given the fact that you will be able to shortly adapt tablets to replace most productivity computers in the work place with in 2-3 years, Windows 8 and ICS are going to be a benchmark for what is to come. If MS is able to adapt the Office suite to Windows 8 and it;s actually functional on a tablet, then they will be ahead of the game. If Google can get their productivity suite going on ICS, then they will beat both MS and Apple, but that has yet to be seen. (Haven't played with a Android tablet, so I don't know if they have adapted Docs to work on it or not)

So, with all that said, let me ask the forum if they think that's where we are going. Thoughts?

RE: ouch
By Manch on 3/23/2012 8:35:49 PM , Rating: 2
From what Ive read, MS goal is to have one OS to rule them all. Amd & Intel are hard at working getting the x86 architecture to scale down to tablets and eventually phones. I believe Win 8 arm is a stop gap until this happens. Even google sees the potential if x86 on tablets/phones. Theres an ICS beta for AMD brazos. Thos procs are now at 5W. This is of course just binned chips, but a die shrinknwill get these out with a lower tdp, and better performance.

I like the metro interface. Granted I do not want it as my sole desktop interface, but Win 8 doesnt force you to use it. You can still use the Win 7 style desktop. As far as the xbox goes, I think the metro interface works great. Ibdo think the advert tiles are way to big, and annoying sometimes but it doesnt detract from the overall experience. On the phone I think the metro is the best ui out there.

Apps are limiyed but growing. Incorporating an apps store into Windows 8 is a geat move by MS. Theres also a prohram in beta that will run android apps on Win 8. Ill find the link and post it. Its called blue something. Cant remember.

Once MS has win 8 acceoss all three platforms, developers will not be able to ignore it.

Jnemesh is trolling so just ignore him. As far as Win phone 7 having only 2.5% market share, so what. MS is supporting it, so unlike web os, it will not get tossed. People said the same thing aboutbthe original xbox, and look where its at now. MS wants a paice of this market and they have the resources to do it.

sorry bout the typos. Touch screen phones....arrrrrgh! Miss keyboards....

RE: ouch
By DrChemist on 3/23/2012 2:15:44 PM , Rating: 3
The reason android got to 20% so quick was because it was solely on verizon "the largest provider in the US" while AT&T had the iPhone. AT&T never had to push the droid until 2010. Meanwhile the droid phones were getting bigger because that's all they could offer.
If you look at the numbers people with WP7 are 75+% satisfied to very satisfied with their phone. With iPhone being 55-60% and android being 40-45%. The reason WebOS died was that it was not licensing the software to other phone manufacturers. Also note that Windows Phone will come out with an update and all phones have it in less than 2 weeks. With android you may be lucky if you get an update in a year if at all. By that time they already have the next version. Windows 8 will show how many people want a tablet that can do everything there laptop can, not everything their phone can without the phone.

RE: ouch
By MrBlastman on 3/23/2012 10:59:12 AM , Rating: 4
Microsoft just needs to throw cash at these companies, like they did for the Xbox. I hated them when they bought Bungie and Rare but in retrospect, it was a very smart move. They immediately had access to a hot IP that would sell consoles. I hope they consider doing something similar here.

Likewise, I think Rovio is banking on this. It sounds to me like they are saying, "Meh, too expensive to support this," *wink wink* while rubbing their fingers together. Microsoft and Nokia NEED this to work. What's the point of having billions of money in the bank if you don't use it to help you expand and make more?

RE: ouch
By HandiCapable on 3/23/2012 10:52:20 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe MS will offer to facilitate Rovio's development after this coverage?

Rovio is talking about going public in the next couple of years so currently they have very strong incentive to maximize their contribution margin.

They'll meet their valuation goal only if investors are confident that the company's expenditures indicates solid decision making.

So it's not in their interest to support a platform that isn't showing the growth capable of driving significant near term ROI.

I think the decision might have been different if they were looking to stay private, because then it's a speculative investment that isn't at odds with external pressure.

RE: ouch
By abzillah on 3/23/2012 11:11:41 AM , Rating: 1
Angry birds can suck it.

RE: ouch
By nafhan on 3/23/2012 11:48:58 AM , Rating: 4, not that your necessarily wrong, but don't forget there are a LOT of people who don't give two $#its about Angry Birds or games in general.

I, for instance, absolutely consider myself a gamer and even somewhat of an Angry Birds fan, but mobile gaming isn't that important to me, and Angry Birds even less so. If Angry Birds: Space didn't get released on Android, I'd just play something else next time I'm standing in line at the grocery store. I'd literally have to be straddling the fence for something like this to affect my choice of cell phone platform.

What MS SHOULD do if they want to get gamers on board is leverage some of their gaming software development studios into building Windows Phone exclusives that are GOOD (mobile version of AoE, anyone?).

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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