Why Angry Birds +could+ turn into a major identity player

LeWeb 2010

Right now when I want to share my identity with a new service, I usually turn to Facebook. Why?

1. It knows my social graph (IE, the people who I want to be associated with online).
2. It has an identity API (IE, when I sign into, say, CinchCast, that has a way to talk to Facebook and get info from me).
3. It knows a lot about me, including what kind of music, what movies, what website, what drinks, what activities, what food, and more, that I like.
4. I keep it up to date because of social pressure of other members (if you change your email, for instance, watch what happens if you don’t change your address — people bug you).
5. Me, and nearly everyone I know, is on it.

So, right now how does Angry Birds compare?

1. Doesn’t have it.
2. Doesn’t have it.
3. Doesn’t know it.
4. Oh, yeah, we play every day.
5. Oh, yeah, the other day I walked into my doctor’s office with my son and literally EVERYONE in the office was playing Angry Birds. Old. Young. And others.

Now I have some inside knowledge. I was talking with an exec who works at Rovio the other night at the DLD conference and he hinted that Angry Birds would be turning on a gaming network soon.

Why? Well, what’s the worst thing about Angry Birds? That when you get to a new level on one device, all your other devices don’t know about it.

But, let’s take it further. Angry Birds could prompt you to give up a lot of the information Facebook does today. Why? They would trade you “Angry Birds points” for knowing what kind of books you read. Or what movies you’ve seen lately. Or what beer you like drinking.

It could even open up new levels for players that shared a lot of info with the system.

Yesterday I was in a workshop for Lufthansa where they asked us to build a “Facebook airline.” It was amazing to hear how willing the high-mileage travelers in the room were to give up their personal data to have better service.

Would I join an Angry Birds social graph? Damn straight I would and I’d probably urge you to join up too.

It isn’t hard to see how they would become the coolest social network within a month or two. Even cooler than Quora. Heheh. After all, a lot more people identify with Angry Birds than identify with other services online (the same exec told me they can’t keep Angry Birds merchandise in stock).

Maybe this is the competition Facebook needs. Diaspora? Give me a break, that will never keep Facebook honest. Angry Birds, though, could become a major competitor for Facebook and could keep them worried about their future existence, the way Facebook is now keeping Google’s founders up at night.

What do you think? And, if you don’t like it, just pretend I’m a pig and send some of those birds my way!

WWWwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeee!

Photo credit: Loic Le Meur at LeWeb 2010 By Hervé Corcia.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

26 thoughts on “Why Angry Birds +could+ turn into a major identity player

  1. You remember when everyone said, “why should my company have email?” Then “why should my company have an email server?” Then “why should my company optimize email?” Then “how can I trust your company if you don’t have your own email domain?” Identity is a technology like that. Every company will be both an identity provider and consumer, some will be agents, brokers, or other forms of middleman. And you’ll have options for hosting this service outside your company.

    A few years’ later, the same question happened with web servers. Then with content management systems. Then with digital media. Then with YASNS. It’s a common pattern in technology diffusion and adoption.

    There’s a joke that a Yahoo! email address is a reason to break up with someone; not cool enough. So maybe wearing your Angry Birds identity will be the fashion. Or it might be an organization you trust a bit more for the long term, like a bank, church, credit card company, or Google.

    You’d have fun at the http://InternetIdentityWorkshop.com.

  2. I great social network for interacting with the community, points and share information, yes, I do agree. I facebook competitor? hmmm I don’t know… Why not use facebook connect to do all this already?

  3. dude, this is a big stretch.. angry birds is a fun game but that’s about it… i mean, my 3 kids played it all the time a few weeks ago but have moved on to other fun games, and will continue to move along.

  4. I take a bit of issue with the primary contentions of this post: That because a product is 1) highly addictive, 2) used by a lot of people, 3) has a platform portability issue, and 4) contains features we want access to (possibly in exchange for personal information), that it is a prime candidate to become an identity player.

    Break this down a bit more, and it sounds even more ridiculous. Here’s something that meets those criteria: Beer. I drink a lot of beer, everyone I know drinks beer, it’s got a platform portability problem (if I buy beer, it would be great if I had access to it both in my home and at my office), and hell, I’d give up some personal information in exchange for more/free beer (in fact, I do it all the time on Foursquare). I’ll even through in the fact that beer is a social product (you drink it with others) for good measure–something Angry Birds is not.

    But we’d never entertain the thought that a beer brewer or distributor could become an identity provider. Not because it wouldn’t be useful (it would be great if when I walked into my corner store the beer cooler recognized me and I didn’t have to pay or present ID), nor because it wouldn’t be in their interest (brand loyalty has been done to the hilt with cigarettes). No, the reason is that identity has nothing to do with their primary business.

    I love to play Angry Birds. I wish it stayed in sync on my iMac, iPad, and iPhone. But this is a portability problem, not an identity problem. Just because they can solve it, doesn’t mean they should.

  5. I take a bit of issue with the primary contentions of this post: That because a product is 1) highly addictive, 2) used by a lot of people, 3) has a platform portability issue, and 4) contains features we want access to (possibly in exchange for personal information), that it is a prime candidate to become an identity player.

    Break this down a bit more, and it sounds even more ridiculous. Here’s something that meets those criteria: Beer. I drink a lot of beer, everyone I know drinks beer, it’s got a platform portability problem (if I buy beer, it would be great if I had access to it both in my home and at my office), and hell, I’d give up some personal information in exchange for more/free beer (in fact, I do it all the time on Foursquare). I’ll even through in the fact that beer is a social product (you drink it with others) for good measure–something Angry Birds is not.

    But we’d never entertain the thought that a beer brewer or distributor could become an identity provider. Not because it wouldn’t be useful (it would be great if when I walked into my corner store the beer cooler recognized me and I didn’t have to pay or present ID), nor because it wouldn’t be in their interest (brand loyalty has been done to the hilt with cigarettes). No, the reason is that identity has nothing to do with their primary business.

    I love to play Angry Birds. I wish it stayed in sync on my iMac, iPad, and iPhone. But this is a portability problem, not an identity problem. Just because they can solve it, doesn’t mean they should.

  6. If you buy into Hugh Macleod’s (@Gapingvoid) views on how networks (and therefore communities) form around ‘Social Objects’ then this idea starts to have more legs. Just take a look at the stats on the amount of Facebook users who are involved in ‘Social Gaming’. Add to that the scale of people who play on Xbox Live (and if we must, those sad deluded fools on PSN) and even (gasp) the amount of ‘games’ we all play together in the real world. I just love this idea. Sure, none of it is realised yet but who thought 10 years ago that Google would scale the heights it’s achieved (and for that matter the power and scale of Facebook). Anything is possible.

  7. LOL this idea is really to crazy for me too! I agree with Amrita: why da hell people would join this Angry Birds Network for giving out their social graph??? if this was true the current Xbox Live or PSN Networks should already became the biggest “Facebook” right? but that hasnt happened… there’s more then meets the eye! ;)
    ps.also we still have the wrong perception that everybody has a smartphone while there’s still a LOT of ppl out there with a “dumbphone”!
    just think about BBerry user that currently have only this version of Angry Birds: http://ow.ly/3JSex ;)

  8. This is a borderline crazy idea without much justification isn’t it? (people like the game right now so they will give up their data to get ahead?!). Hmm. People won’t be playing Angry Birds in a year and any social network would be a Rovio one (competing with all the drivers we have now – portability, trust, privacy etc). Steam is a successful gaming network that syncs levels across devices and has social features. Neither are big draws for users. The fact that they can buy/download games on-line is (and that entails developing great Valve games and building a great reseller network).

    How exactly would you urge us to join up an Angry Birds network? How would Rovio? At least Quora/Mahalo etc are vaguely learning based. Think you must have been on the Steinlager! :)

    1. I wish I was drinking. I probably wouldn’t have come up with such a wacky idea. By the way, I told the Rovio exec what you just said, that we wouldn’t be playing in a year, and he told me some of the ways they are working to make sure that we are. So, we’ll see. I believe in this team, though. They are doing some wacky thinking!

      1. You’re too busy listening to vendors, not to customers. We have no interest in using Facebook, Angry Birds, or (as history has proven) even Google and Microsoft as our identity provider. Get a clue.

  9. I dont agree. Just because certain early adopters and other niche online communities know of and regularly use Angry Birds doesn’t mean it is poised to be the next big social network. They’d have to make too many adjustments in order to effectively position themselves and compete.

    I think services such as Kik have a better chance doing this i.e. establishing a network with strong ties with strong privacy adjustments. Facebook’s biggest problem is that it is becoming a walled garden – any service that challenges that status quo will be a winner in most books.

    1. If you think only early adopters are playing Angry Birds, you simply aren’t studying the real world. Or at least the one I live in. It’s going nuts.

      1. What is interesting about Diaspora is the notion that society is moving to digitize our personal information. Is there any reason to store my name, address, email, phone, etc in more than one location? Who will be responsible for this info? Will people rely on a corporate entity like Facebook or will I maintain this block of personal info on my mobile device or will there be some regulated utility?

        One day, I will be able to walk into a new doctor’s office and not have to spend 15 minutes filling out forms. I will possibly “login via Facebook” or I will perhaps “bump” my device. Now imagine that experience at the DMV, a corporate HR hiring rep’s office, etc.

        Will the data ever be truly safe? Will we have safety tiers for our personal data? Will there be one company that serves as a gatekeeper to tier one data (name, address, phone) while another company restricts access to tier three (social security number)?

        It’s very nice that Rovio is just another player making a digital copy of my personal data. Imagine a time when Eric Schmidt isn’t just lecturing 18-year-olds that they should have been more careful publishing drunken pictures on Flavor-of-the-year.com. How about the lecture coming that people should have known better than to trade their family’s personal information to get to “Flag Day Level 14″ of Angry Birds?

  10. Everyone talks about “first mover advantage” but Facebook has “second mover advantage.” The first mover (MySpace) screwed up, just as Google took over from Yahoo.

    Second mover advantage is harder to dislodge, because the person with second mover advantage knows their business. And you have to scale-up much further to reach the second mover than you did the first.

    1. Very true Dana, and a new social networking site will be coming soon for college students and alumni, and that’s FreezeCrowd the site I’m working on. Our concept will be different as well, as we connect people in group photos. The other sites say people should be friends and not be together, whereas we say people should be friends and be together. If any of the previous sites messed up in social networking, and telling our future generations on how to socialize, then it’s these.

      Please follow my efforts on Twitter. Thank you!
      http://twitter.com/freezecrowd

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