22 February 2011

'Bigger Than Mickey Mouse'

I got J an iPad for her Xmas. I know I should have waited until April when the new super-wizzy version with a larger screen and a camera is apparently to be announced but you can wait for ever for these new versions so I took the plunge, ordered it off of the internet, it was delivered in good time, all beautifully wrapped and it was put under the tree and eventually gratefully received. Not ‘eventually’ in that it took my wife ages to acknowledge the gift but that it was delivered early and lay under the tree for a couple of weeks.

Despite not having the usual Windows applications such as Excel, Word or Powerpoint, the iPad comes into its own when used simply as an internet access device. Despite costing twice what a good laptop would set you back, the touch-screen interface to the internet and e-mail is brilliant. Before I got J the iPad, I’d read that once you use an iPad to access the Net, you never want to go back to the mouse based system, and it’s true – as soon as J puts her iPad down, either me, Guy or Kitty are racing to get our hands on it.

It’s not without its faults though. Like the iPhone and the iTouch, there is no ability to run Flash so I cannot watch some videos and cannot see any Flash based football games on it. It doesn’t have a file input device such as a USB port or Bluetooth – everything you want to get on your iPad has to go through iTunes which is a bit of a nuisance. Still – its good points outscore the bad.

As soon as we, sorry, J had the iPad we were looking for the best applications. Very quickly Wunderadio (a digital radio app which gives J her Classic FM and me, my Talksport), Accuweather (for beautifully presented weather forecasts) and Jukebox, were downloaded, soon to be followed by a few free games such as Casino, Paper Toss and a paid one, Angry Birds.

I hadn’t heard of Angry Birds before, I guess Guy downloaded it but it is horribly addictive, encouraging you to play for hours trying to get from one level to the next. It was only developed as an ‘App’ in 2009 but two years later, Angry Birds has become the iPhone’s most popular App, in other words, the piece of software that has been installed on the most number of handsets worldwide (quite an achievement when you consider that it’s one of 300,000 applications on offer) and has quickly spread to Apple’s iPad and other types of phones as well.

The game has been downloaded 50 million times. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has admitted to a mild addiction, as have a variety of other supposedly busy people, from Dick Cheney to Mad Men actor Jon Hamm. Last year, two brothers, Rodrigo and Gustavo Dauster, competed against each other in a two-month marathon session to see who could score the maximum number of points.
In total, the game notches up 200 million minutes of play time every day, which is close to the number of minutes viewers in the United States spend watching the average prime-time television programme. Versions of the game are being developed for the PlayStation, Xbox and Wii. There is a line of Angry Birds soft toys, Mattel is working on a board game and before long there will be a cartoon series, and, if all goes well, a film.
Rovio, the company behind the development of Angry Birds, certainly doesn’t lack ambition. At a conference in Munich last month, Peter Vesterbacka, the company’s head of business development, boasted that Angry Birds was “bigger than Mickey Mouse”. He was referring to the number of times the two terms were searched for on Google.

It’s certainly the most addictive way to pass some spare time, and that’s how it was developed – for people standing at a bus stop waiting for a few minutes and wanting something mildly amusing and challenging to play on their smart phone, with the ability to pick up where you left off, either the following day, or if you’re like me, as soon as you can find a quiet corner.

Try it - but heed my warning – you will not be able to put it down.

1 comment:

Mickey Mouse birthday party invitations said...

We all move Mickey! And this will also be a great idea to watch.