I can't tell if Hasbro (HAS), the maker of Scrabble, is the smartest company in the world or the dumbest. Over 100 million sets of the game have been sold in 121 countries, in 29 different languages, according to everyone's favorite source. What a cash cow.
So, why in the world didn't it create a free online version? Could it have something to do with the digital rights being in flux, thanks to a recent licensing deal that assigned online Scrabble rights to EA (ERTS). If so, why oh why would it let someone else do it, and reap the rewards? But that's just what happened when two guys from Calcutta, Jayant Agarwalla, 21, and his brother, Rajat, 26, created a knockoff called Scrabulous.
Their site launched in 2006 and quickly signed up 600,000 registered users. Not too shabby for a year's worth of work. So the brothers launched a Facebook application in June, 2007 and the results were stunning: 2.3 million active users as of today. For those of you keeping score, the application generated 270 70 million pageviews in the past month. Not a bad deal for a two-man operation.
But all good things must come to an end, which is bad news for Scrabulous fans, and even worse for the Agarwalla Bros.: Hasbro's trying to shut the site down. "They sent a notice to Facebook about two weeks ago," Jayant confirmed to me. "The lawyers are working on it."