Angry Birds downloads pass half-billion mark

Maker Rovio cites truly ridiculous usage statistics for global gaming phenomenon

It started as a somewhat stupid, if entertaining, game (seriously, launching cartoon birds at thieving green pigs?). But soon Angry Birds became an incredibly successful stupid, if entertaining, game.

How successful? According to Finnish developer Rovio Mobile, Angry Birds has just surpassed the 500,000 download mark, making it one of the most successful games in the history of, um, gaming.

And that’s all in less than two years. Angry Birds first surfaced in December 2009 on Apple’s iOS. It proved such a runaway hit (with more than 12 million sales from Apple’s App Store) that Rovio rolled out versions for other platforms, including Google’s Android OS, Symbian, Windows, Mac OS X and PlayStation.

Not only that, the Angry Birds franchise has flown far beyond gaming platforms. Rovio says it has shipped more than 10 million Angry Birds toys worldwide and published numerous Angry Birds books, including, believe it or not, this cookbook.

Rovio also is set to open the first official Angry Birds retail shop in Helsinki. (Can Angry Birds restaurants and theme parks be far behind?)

Here’s Rovio chief executive Mikael Hed gushing about his company’s incredible fortune:

” This is a fantastic landmark achievement for us, and we’re extremely delighted to see such an incredible amount of people enjoying our games. We remain committed to creating more fun experiences and bringing exceptional quality to Angry Birds Fans everywhere.”

Beyond the half-million downloads, Rovio trotted out some other amazing Angry Birds metrics:

Angry Birds Fans around the world have so far played a total of 200,000 years of Angry Birds, with 300 million minutes of playing time daily. Moreover, more than 266 billion levels of Angry Birds have been played, with 400 billion birds launched into action, and over 44 billion Stars collected in the process.

Sounds like great fun. But think about all the potential productivity wasted on Angry Birds! If you look at the numbers above through the prism of the “10,000 hour Rule” -– which posits that the key to mastery of any discipline is to practice, practice, practice for roughly 10,000 hours –- well, let’s just say there’s a lot of “mastery” being left on the table (or mobile device, as it were) by people engrossed in Angry Birds.

On the other hand, if the hundreds of thousands of people addicted to Angry Birds had spent those countless hours improving their skills and lives -- perhaps achieving that elusive state of true self-actualization and maybe making a valuable, lasting contribution to society -- instead of lobbing cartoon digital birds at green pigs, I guess those 44 billion Stars wouldn't have been collected.

So, really, it's a wash.

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