The Dominance of 'Angry Birds': From Startup to Animated Series With 1.7 billion downloads, 'Angry Birds' appears to be an unstoppable force. A timeline of the series, from inception to the new cartoon that is launching this month.

By Brian Patrick Eha

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Now that their namesake games are among the best-selling apps of all time, what's left for the Angry Birds to do? If you guessed starring in an animated series, then you're right.

Finland-based Rovio Entertainment, the company behind the hit mobile game Angry Birds and its sequels, is set to launch an Angry Birds cartoon this weekend. By downloading the latest update for any Angry Birds game on any mobile device, users will gain access to a new video channel in the game where they can watch the animated show. The cartoon will also be shown on select television networks and video-on-demand channels around the world.

The cartoon, featuring the game's familiar stylized birds and pigs, will release one episode per week with a full run of 52 episodes planned. "We want to combine the feel of cartoon classics with modern twists on an unprecedented scale," said Nick Dorra, Rovio's head of animation, in a press release.

A brief history of Angry Birds, detailing how it became a global phenomenon, follows.

December 2009: Rovio Entertainment releases Angry Birds for the iOS as an app for $0.99. It is Rovio's 52nd game and becomes the first hit for the struggling company. A version of the game will later be released for Android and Microsoft devices as well as for Facebook, and it will be followed by four sequels.

February 2010: Angry Birds becomes the number-one selling paid app in Apple's U.K. App Store and, soon after, the top-selling app in the U.S. store as well. It will hold this spot until October 2010.

October 2010: The Android versions of Angry Birds (a free, ad-supported app and a paid app for $0.99) launch and are downloaded more than two million times in the first weekend.

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March 2011: Rovio raises $42 million of venture capital in a series A round led by Accel Partners.

November 2011: The first Angry Birds store opens in Helsinki, near Rovio's Espoo headquarters. It sells merchandise, such as plush pigs, based on the game characters. The merchandise is also available through an online store on the official Angry Birds website. In January 2013, TechCrunch reports that Rovio expects that half or more of its revenue will eventually come from physical goods.

December 2011: Rovio crosses the mark for 200 million monthly active users of its games across all devices.

April 2012: In Cannes, France, Nick Dora, Rovio's head of animation, reveals plans for an Angry Birds animated series. It will be a cartoon exploring the story of the characters from the mobile games. Originally slated to debut in the fall of 2012, it is later postponed until spring 2013.

September 2012: Rovio launches Bad Piggies, a puzzle game that is a spin-off to Angry Birds. It becomes the number-one app in Apple's App Store within three hours.

November 2012: Angry Birds Star Wars, the latest title in the series and a crossover with the popular science-fiction franchise, launches to great success.

December 2012: Rovio now has 263 million monthly active users for its games. In a sign of Rovio games' global popularity, China became the largest source of daily active users for the company the previous month.

March 2013: Rovio announces that it will be debuting an animated series starring the characters from its Angry Birds games. The series will be distributed across a new video channel in all Angry Birds titles across all smartphones and tablets, and will also be shown on select TV networks and video-on-demand channels.

"We've long wanted to tell our fans the story of the Angry Birds and the Bad Piggies, to introduce their personalities and their world in detail," said Mikael Hed, Rovio's chief executive, in a press release. By now, according to the press release, the Angry Birds game titles have been downloaded 1.7 billion times across all platforms -- making them a perfect vehicle for mass video distribution.

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Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at Entrepreneur.com. He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.

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