Google is coming out with the next version of its Android mobile operating system. Yawn. But wait... Google's calling it KitKat? Well, that has the Internet all a buzz. Tuesday's news of the next version of Android, 4.4, revealed via a Google+ page of Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android and Chrome, set talk in motion. Tech bloggers, marketers and branding experts sought to examine the ups and downs of the unexpected announcement.
The news comes as a surprise in a number of ways. Android fans expected the next version would be named Key Lime Pie. Google watchers also had grown accustomed to a generic candy house of version tags such as Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo (frozen yogurt), Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.
Surely the big K would be generic? Using a trademark for an Android release name is a first for Google. This would make Android 4.4 carrying the name of a candy owned by Nestle and licensed by Hershey in the United States.
A popular reaction by comment posters was "Sweet" and "We love KitKat" (the candy). Others found it hard to swallow, thinking it was a prank, wondering why Google would get involved with a commercial brand name.
For the Fun of It
Would Google's generic branding scheme now be a thing of the past? They worried if this was going to be the beginning of the end, out of an innocent candy castle and into a cave of product placements.
Google's take on the move, nonetheless, indicates the deal was one where no money changed hands. In an interview with the BBC, John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, said the motive was to do something "fun and unexpected." Besides, he said, not everyone knows the taste of a key lime pie. The choice was serendipitous.
Google keeps KitKat snacks in the kitchen for late-night coders, and somebody said, why not call the release KitKat. Phone calls with Nestle and the two sides meeting during February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona finalized the deal. A major co-marketing blitz was to get under way.
Nestle plans to deliver more than 50 million special bars showing the Android mascot to shops in 19 markets, from Australia to the United States. For the lucky, the KitKat bar might contain a winning ticket for a new Nexus 7 tablet or Google Play (the online store) credits.
The Android Web site carries the word that "We're naming the next version of Android after one of our favorite chocolate treats, KitKat," and says to look for specially branded KitKat bars that offer a chance to win the prizes. (continued...)