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The Russian Twins Behind Hit iPhone App Cut the Rope

The Muscovite twins behind iPhone hit Cut the Rope are expanding

When they were 10, fraternal twins Efim and Semyon Voinov received a British-made ZX Spectrum personal computer from their parents. It was 1991 in late Soviet-era Moscow, and such things were rare. The Voinovs put the Spectrum to good use. They picked up programming and quickly graduated from playing games to designing their own.

That childhood hobby has rewarded the twins, now 29, big-time. Last October the Voinovs’ latest project, a game called Cut the Rope, exploded into the iPhone App Store, quickly reaching No. 1. In July the Android version debuted and also hit the top spot. It’s the first game to knock the megahit Angry Birds off the top roost, and has now been downloaded more than 50 million times. The in-game ads and 99¢ sales pile up: Although the brothers won’t talk figures, they’ve earned “several million dollars” from the game, says Mikhail Lyalin, executive chairman of the Voinovs’ year-old company, ZeptoLab. In a country saturated with programming talent, they’re among the first Russian developers to turn their attention to the smartphone market. And they’re likely not the last. Last year, Russians had 6 million iPhones and other mobile devices, though they generally arrive late to this corner of the world. That figure is expected to triple in 2011.