Behind Angry Birds-maker Rovio Mobile, the other mobile developer with the most obvious opportunities to branch out into real-world merchandise has been Outfit7.
With its line of character apps like Talking Tom, the company has quietly amassed a network of 70 million monthly active players after being founded by a group of Slovenian search engineers two years ago. To put that in perspective, other mobile developers like Instagram have 15 million registered users. Outfit7 has 70 million users that come back to its apps every single month.
After months at hinting at merchandising strategy, today the company finally said it’s working with Beanstalk, a brand licensing agency that has represented Covergirl, Old Spice and Jaguar, to build out a merchandising business next year.
That means that characters like Talking Ben the Dog and Talking Tom the Cat will start appearing on T-shirts, shoes, sleepwear, mugs and holiday ornaments. There will be plush toys that will record voices and play them back at different speeds and pitches — like the apps. You can see some of the merchandise at Talkingfriends.com.
It’s hard to tell from the website how high-quality the merchandise will look and feel though. Rovio’s Angry Birds plush toys have fueled business that was selling 1 million toys and 1 million T-shirts a month through September of this year. While Outfit7 has a formidable network, its brands are not nearly so recognizable as Rovio’s.
The merchandising deals have been long in the making. The company’s former chief executive Andrej Nabergoj hinted at them in January of this year, but turnover in the company’s executive ranks slowed momentum. Apparently there was a split between whether to keep the company more of a bootstrapped business or step on the gas pedal with additional venture funding. Nabergoj, who owned the company’s relationships in Silicon Valley, stepped down and recently raised funding for his next company Iddiction.
Outfit7’s momentum is still going, however, and the company has a new chairman named Narry Singh. The company has reached 250 million downloads across its network and sees about 20 million downloads per month. We weren’t able to get a direct interview with the company today as its leaders are out in China this week, presumably closing deals on making these shirts and toys.