Earlier this month, Twitter revealed that it now has 184m monthly active mobile users. That puts it 46m behind the antics of a cartoon cat and his animal friends.
App developer Outfit7 says its Talking Tom and Friends apps now have 230m monthly active users across iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The apps have been downloaded more than 1.5bn times since the launch of the first, Talking Tom Cat, in June 2010.
The company says its monthly active user count is up 35% in the last four months, which is likely due to the release in November 2013 of My Talking Tom, a free-to-play game starring the squeaky feline character. That game was downloaded 27m times in its first month on the app stores.
Outfit7 has released 14 of the apps, recently rebranding the series from Talking Friends to Talking Tom and Friends, to reflect the popularity of its main character. The series reached 100m downloads in April 2011,360m by March 2012, and 1bn by June 2013, at which point the apps had 170m monthly active users.
The developer has also followed a similar strategy to other character-based mobile game hits like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope by expanding into toys and online video. Outfit7 worked with Disney on a series of 12 Talking Friends videos that have been watched more than 408m times on YouTube, including 151m times alone for music video You Get Me.
“Talking Tom and Friends is one of the only global brands to achieve download billionaire status, while also being strong in both entertainment and games,” said Outfit7 chief operating officer Alessandro Traverso in a statement, following the new milestones. “The development of our TV series demonstrates the global appetite for a property that is, at its core, true interactive entertainment.”
The company’s apps have courted controversy in their rise to success, however. In October 2012, ads for payday lender Wonga were found in the Talking Ginger app, while in February 2013, an ad promoting a contest to win an iPad led users to a £4-a-week mobile content subscription service.
Meanwhile, My Talking Tom upped the ante on Outfit7’s use of in-app purchases, selling virtual coins in quantities worth up to £69.99 at a time. The Talking Tom and Friends apps aren’t just for kids, but they have a massive audience of children – the key target for the company’s video and merchandise activities.
“There are a lot of things changing from the legal perspective, in the US and EU, and our plans are to be the leaders and not the followers in terms of implementing all the changes requested by COPPA and the EU,”chief executive Samo Login told The Guardian last year.
“We will be one of the first companies that will be prepared for that, because we believe we should be an example. We have a huge user-base among kids, and we can’t afford to take that lightly.”