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Microsoft lifted our IP to flog new handset, say developers

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Microsoft has upset Rovio, developer of Angry Birds, by throwing the game's icon into a list of upcoming software for Windows Phone 7 - a platform with which few brands want to be associated.

Redmond showed the scowling icon for the game in screen shots of upcoming software titles, where it was spotted by WMPowerUser. This prompted angry tweeting from Rovio, who pointed out that it has nothing against Windows Phone 7, but equally has no existing plans to port its best-selling time-filler to that platform, and furthermore, it objects to having its IP lifted.

"Only thing we said that we have not committed to do WP7 yet, we don't like others using our IP without asking," the (not angry) company tweeted.

Which is odd, given the way in which the game icon is used by all and sundry to sell themes, clocks, live wallpapers and other assorted junk apps for Android - which is still awaiting a version of the game itself (promised later this week).

Angry Bird Icon

One Angry Bird, though Rovio claims to be keeping its cool

But Microsoft is rather more high profile, and with Windows Phone 7 launching this afternoon, a lot of people are going to be looking at what the platform promises. If Windows Phone 7 achieves any level of success, a degree of which can be assumed given the money Microsoft is piling into it, then Rovio will no-doubt produce a port of Angry Birds, but that work is not underway and Rovio doesn't like the implicit endorsement gained by using its icon.

Quite how that hurts Rovio isn't clear - Windows Phone 7 is being sold as a consumer proposition, so will need a decent stable of games, the Microsoft PR chaps probably thought it was a reasonable assumption that Angry Birds will end up being one of them. But that fails to take into account how supportive Rovio has been of Nokia's efforts: appearing on-stage at Nokia World to wholeheartedly endorse Ovi and, by extension, Symbian.

Enthusiasm like that is hard to come by, and Ovi's ability to support additional features - evidenced by the Eagle option - is a key differentiator in an increasingly commoditised market. Rovio's support of Nokia was very public, and it would confuse matters (and, perhaps more importantly, upset Nokia) to provide similar endorsement to Windows Phone 7.

We're not yet at the stage where a customer will pick a phone based on the software it runs, but we're not that far from it either, so having a back of Angry Birds on your side could be important - even if you're worried about more than porcine larceny. ®

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