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Angry Birds Space: Off to a Flying Start

Thursday, 22 Mar 2012 | 4:54 PM ET

Rovio has turned its one hit wonder into a money making machine. Its newest game - Angry Birds Spacewent on sale at midnight and almost immediately became the top selling and top grossing app on the iPhone and iPad , not just in the US, but also in China and Japan. People are shelling out 99 cents for the iPhone app, three bucks for the HD iPad game, or five bucks for the game for mac computers.

Angry Bird toys are seen on display at the headquarters of the game's developer Rovio Mobile Oy in Espoo, Finland.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Angry Bird toys are seen on display at the headquarters of the game's developer Rovio Mobile Oy in Espoo, Finland.

Game-maker Rovio has everything riding on the Angry Birds brand. Thanks to this one game—and the sequels ‘Seasons’ and then ‘Rio’ pegged to a movie release last year, Rovio grew its revenue from $10 million in 2010 to $100 million last year. And the company has been upfront about its goal of going public on the Hong Kong stock market this year.

The risk: Angry Birds Fatigue.

eMarketer analyst Paul Verna tells me it’s quite unusual for a single title to maintain momentum for half as long as Angry Birds had. In fact, Verna says he expected the game to slow down in December. Instead, it added 100 million downloads in the last month of the year.
Now Rovio has inked a major licensing deal with Wal-Mart . Making the birds ubiquitous—stuffed animals, on T-shirts—risks over exposing them. But if Rovio can turn them into a Disney-style brand—classic but constantly evolving-- then this licensing deal could be worth tens of millions of dollars.

Rovio has to keep innovating to keep up with market leader Zynga , which just yesterday bought OMGPOP, maker of the second biggest mobile app, “Draw Something,” for $200 million. We’ll be watching to see how many downloads Rovio reports in the game’s first 24 hours on sale.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.