Android KitKat: sweetest moonshot idea ever?

September 4, 2013
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Android 4.4 kitkat Google HQ Mountain view

Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that (Android) KitKat bar!

Google surprised everyone today by announcing the next version of Android will be called Android KitKat. In an interesting twist, Google and Nestle have decided to co-promote the launch of the next version of Android as Android KitKat. Why would Google associate themselves and their one billion activation strong Android operating system with a confectionary sweet? Is this another stroke of brilliance on Google’s part?

To put matters into perspective isn’t difficult: Google is a company that continually introduces radical ideas. Whether its Google GlassProject Loon or Google Fiber, Google continues to astound. This is simply another testament to the moonshoot subculture that characterizes their various initiatives. Little known bonus fact? KitKat became the best selling candy brand in Japan in the past 12 months. You can be sure Google has done its research, and expects to benefit from this new alliance. Both parties do.

But why?

Android 4.4 KitKat

 

The Android-KitKat brand marriage is a creative and possibly clever idea. Many consumers, in markets around the world, know what a KitKat bar is and generally will have positive associations with that name.

 

Allyson Stewart-Allen

Director, International Marketing Partners

 

Google has decided to align Android with a brand that enjoys excellent favor, and one that immediately imbues a sense of good will towards it. Who doesn’t love KitKat? In a twist that somewhere had to be inspired by Jobs’ desire to name his budding computer business after something that was trusted, loved and timeless, Google has acted in kind. How are they doing anything different by naming Android after a beloved American candy bar?

Surprise, surprise

In a rare occurrence, virtually no one knew about Android’s next true moniker. In an article on the BBC, personalities familiar with the alliance said “Keeping it confidential was paramount to Google’s strategy [and that] absolutely nothing leaked.” In an industry characterized by leaks, rumors, and constant rumor hunting, this is no easy feat.

John Lagerling Director of Android Partnerships Google 2013John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, told the BBC the team came to the realization that “very few people actually know the taste of a key lime pie.”

In their quest for a new name, VP Engineering (for Android) at Google Hiroshi Lockheimer suggested KitKat, as apparently it’s one of his favorite snacks.

“One of the snacks that we keep in our kitchen for late-night coding are KitKats. And someone said: ‘Hey, why don’t we call the release KitKat?,” Lagerling told the BBC.

After finding out that Nestle controlled the KitKat name, he made the first initial cold call in late November, and got connected through the switchboard of Nestle’s UK PR Agency. Within 24 hours, he was having a conference call with their executives, and they decided to go for it.

Prior to November, Lagerling admitted that internally, and even with partners (OEM’s) they still referred to the next version as Key Lime Pie.

“We kept calling the name Key Lime Pie internally and even when we referred to it with partners,” he said.

Deliciously sweet alliance

Android Kit Kat John LargerlingAs part of the deal, Nestle will be producing 50 million Android inspired KitKat bars (seen right) in addition to featuring the Android mascot via their distribution channels in 19 markets, including Japan, Russia, the UK, US, Brazil, and India.

It seems that in another stroke of creative genius, Google has leveraged the immense reach and favorable perception of one of the world’s favorite confectionary snacks with what is the world’s most popular mobile operating system.

Persons familiar with the negotiations and execution of the deal said it was quite a challenge, and that “keeping it confidential was paramount to Google’s strategy, and that absolutely nothing leaked.”

Lagerling is to be complimented for his foresight in partnering with Nestle and KitKat. Technology is not supposed to be confusing. Any attempt to demystify it, to make it easier and more intuitive to use, and to market it so more people can experience it, is inherently a good thing.

Now, of course this is a mutual partnership, and is likely the process of a long and thoughtful series of negotiations.Personally, I think it’s brilliant. How about you?

More importantly, what can we expect to see in the next version of Android? If Nestle was willing to bet their beloved KitKat name on Google’s Android, you can be sure that it’s likely to be quite delicious indeed. Right?

Matcha green tea KitKat anyone? 4.4 ounces of Android KitKat goodness would be the perfect ending to this article, wouldn’t it?

Stay tuned though for all of our IFA coverage! Lots of exciting announcements coming very soon, folks.

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