Telecommunications - Regional

Brazilian bureaucracy with Apple holding back Angry Birds maker Rovio

Brazilian bureaucracy with Apple holding back Angry Birds maker Rovio

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Brazilian bureaucracy is holding back the country from being the biggest Latin American market for Angry Birds game maker Rovio, Rovio's Latin America VP Jere Errko told BNamericas.

In Brazil, Apple currently has a local app store with limited content that is mostly free, preventing iPhone and iPad users from accessing the full paid versions of applications like Angry Birds. In fact, there isn't even a games section in the Brazilian Apple app store.

According to Errko, users always find ways around obstacles and several hundred thousand Brazilians have already accessed Rovio games by registering through US or European app stores.

However, that is a more labor intensive and complex process as users have to register their phones when abroad so it has a non-Brazilian IP address and using a foreign credit card, which means this option is restricted to a few.

While not giving specific download numbers for Latin America, Errko said that Mexico is number one followed by Brazil and Chile.

"Brazil will become No 1 of course because of the population. They aren't number one today because of the availability of the app store. But now with the rate Android is growing it will overtake Mexico anyhow," Errko said.

BUREAUCRACY

In many countries, the US age guidance is accepted to define age appropriateness for games. In Brazil, however, the US age guidance is not accepted as an official parent advisory and all games have to be certified by Dejus, a department of the justice ministry, Pyramid Research senior analyst Vinicius Caetano told BNamericas.

"The evaluation of each game is slow and very bureaucratic. Apple made some attempts to find a middle ground with Dejus and establish a 'fast track' for its game developers to have their games classified by age, with no success. Therefore, it decided to remove the games category from its store to avoid legal issues. All games [even if few] are now sold as 'entertainment apps'," Caetano said.

Most iPhone users in Brazil subscribe to an Apple app store account in Argentina with a foreign credit card or to a US account using Apple store gift cards, he said.

They also use unofficial stores, like Cydia, to download content.

CHANGE LIKELY

Errko said he is hopeful the situation will change in the short term given how big Apple is for Rovio.

And given the announcement that Taiwan's Foxconn will begin producing Apple's iPhone and iPad devices in Jundiaí, in São Paulo state, in September this year, Apple will be keen to end the stalemate to grow its market share and hold off the encroachment of Android.

"I believe it is going to change soon because applications are becoming more and more relevant. People are starting to choose their smartphone based on the amount of applications available and what those applications can do. If you limit that too much Apple is going to risk losing space to other smartphones," Caetano said.