Android KitKat: sweetest moonshot idea ever?

by: Darcy LaCouveeSeptember 4, 2013

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.

  • M. Clark

    I’d love to buy some android shaped kit kats.

    • Writing this article without eating KitKat was a true challenge. Nom, nom.

    • Mike Bastable

      bit desperate, just mail Nestle and ask them to send u one dude

  • Grd Peter

    Come on mehn bring it outta room

  • polo
  • Balraj

    A redesigned ui?
    Anything can happen lol
    Google wants ppl to forget Apple completely……

  • REBELista

    BRILLIANT! Only Google could’ve think of it.

  • Jaun Lombard

    I am getting hungry right now….its my Favorited chocolate…especially the dark chocolate one! Now I love Android even more. ME = ANDROID SHEEP!

  • Luka Mlinar

    Only way this could get better if i bought a KitKat and found a gold Google ticket inside. How awesome would that be :D

  • Paul Allen

    As a recent convert to Android, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit if they dropped the nicknames entirely. It can be confusing when an article refers to one version of Android by its number and (a few paragraphs down the page) refers to another version by its nickname. Add to that confusion when the reporter suddenly starts abbreviating those nicknames.

    Case in point: we’ve been told Jelly Bean = v. 4.2, so 4.1 must be Ice Cream Sandwich, right? But my Galaxy Note 2 has the Jelly Bean easter egg and it’s only on 4.1.2. No, Wikipedia says all versions between 4.1 and 4.3 are Jelly Bean. So, what is Ice Cream Sandwich? Apparently anything with 4.0. Okay, so Honeycomb is 3.9? No, Honeycomb is 3.0 – 3.2 and is only for tablets. Then that must mean 3.3 – 3.9 = Gingerbread! Wrong again, Gingerbread = 2.3 – 2.3.x and 3.3 – 3.9 were apparently lost in the void.

    Could it be possible that part of the reason for fragmentation is because even the carriers and manufacturers themselves can’t keep up with which version is which anymore?

    Why couldn’t they at least designate everything version 4 as Ice Cream Sandwich and save Jelly Bean for version 5? As far as that goes, what’s the deciding factor that causes them to finally advance to the next whole number anyway? Is it based on a technological advance or just the consensus of the marketing department?

    • Jérémy Castellano

      Marketing of course. Google can follow strictly the standard versioning software protocol but the marketing departement thinks pretty differently. Society these days thinks that higher the version of a software is, better the technology is. Which is pretty false of course. Since Google have generic consumers as campaign target they have to follow the decisions of the marketing departement.

    • Diskus1

      2.3 Gingerbread. 3.x Honeycomb. 4.0 ICS. 4.1-4.3 JB. All else is only lack of knowledge.

    • Dehaha1

      A whole major number change is dictated by how big the update is.

      3.0-3.2.6 (Honeycomb) had a UI change, and also added hardware acceleration for apps, multi-core support, software buttons, and the multi-tasking button.

      4.0-4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) had more UI changes, hardware acceleration for the UI, which made the whole thing run faster. So this update was mainly making Android a smooth working OS.

      Now it’s time for the incremental updates, which don’t change enough to warrant a whole number change.

      4.1-4.1.2 (Jelly Bean 1st) added Project Butter (which added Vsync and Triple Buffering everywhere), Google Now, multi-channel audio, and expandable notifications.

      4.2-4.2.2 (Jelly Bean 2nd) added Photosphere (Nexus devices only), added gestures to the keyboard, wireless display support, Notification/Quick settings, more security, support for controller addons, and multiple accounts.

      4.3 (Jelly Bean 3rd) added Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy support, OpenGL ES 3.0 (which allows for much improved gaming graphics), 4k resolution support, longterm usability stability added by having the fstrim command activate while phone is idle, and more security.

      The reason these were released incrementally, is probably because as android becomes better and better, it’s harder to make huge changes to justify a whole number change, as their isn’t a whole bunch to change unless they did so for the sake of change. So they are probably holding in the big features until they have enough for them to release them all at once, so it will make sense to have another number change.

      4.4 (Kitkat) is probably not going to be huge. It will most likely make the interface run more smoothly, add a couple of small features, and if rumors are correct, lower the system requirements so that older phones can run it, to help get rid of fragmentation.

      Sorry that this post was so long.

    • pro

      you’re a noob

    • Brayan Habid

      Just follow the alphabet:

      1.6 Eclair
      2.2 Froyo
      2.3 Gingerbread
      3.0 Honeycomb
      4.0 Ice cream sandwich
      4.1 Jelly Bean
      4.4 Kit-kat

      So, the next nickname should start with L

  • This is a very clever idea!

  • Mike Bastable

    Can you imagine the uproar here if Microsoft launched Windows Holiday Inn, Apple launched iOS Granola or anyone did anything like this? What a bunch of screaming hypocrites.
    Whilst i applaud Google for its audacity it is just marketing, getting its name on confectionery. (are we to expect another drawn out court case when Android Lion arrives?)
    Nestle, Darcy, is betting nothing here, to suggest otherwise is plain silly. For them it is a win situation, just another logo on their massive selling chocolate for a while ,to be replaced by the Olympic logo, FIFA World Cup logo in time as the year progresses.
    It is a strange move by Google, one they did not need to make, the motivations behind it are not explained by their current public statements. Maybe they are sick of not making money on Android>? and want to introduce a form of revenue via Sponsoring? Who knows at this time, few.
    But for everyone to applaud move in this way is just strange, as stated, if anyone else did it you would murder them for it.
    Is there really no room for dissension in the Android world?
    I never expected Android users to become as blind as Apple fanboys, and just roll over and accept everything without a murmur. Strange times indeed.

    • le_lutin

      You haven’t explained what your objection to it is.

      • Mike Bastable

        Le Lutin, i DON’T object, i just find it funny that we have articles applauding Google, when if anyone else did this they would be attacked.
        I also wanted to point out to AA that to suggest that branding KitKat is a risk for Nestle is just plain silly.
        Thanks for taking the time to reply.

        • Arvind Ramani

          true if it just took a day for a company that huge to bet on huge risks then they wont be such a big successful mnc in the first place … eitherway kitkat 4.4 will stay wat a year or less for google before they switch to another dessert and nestle too should only be in this for less than a year if for fifa and other stuff…. this seems like a easter egg gone too far and real but then google has always been a quirky company right?
          mayb they wanted more recognition for android than samsung galaxy perhaps :P

    • Google doesn’t need to make money on anything except Adwords.

      99% of google revenue is from adwords. For google, any other project is simply a fun distraction that turns into brand recognition or something that genuinely helps the world become a better place (Loon, Fiber, Etc).

      • Mike Bastable

        That is actually what concerns me too. Adwords is the cash cow that Google built, like Windows and Office were the cash cows that Microsoft built. All eggs, one basket seems correct here. Google should be monetizing some of its products….and if sponsorship is the way forward they should be upfront about it.
        Thanks for the reply i did not know that 99% of their revenue was from Adwords!.

  • pjlk

    Reading this makes me wanna buy a KitKat for snack tonight..yum! Looking forward for Android 4.4, altho im half bit disappointed it wasnt Key Lime Pie… New goodies coming right up! :) Next up, L?

  • j7.deville

    Google is seriously Genius and here is Why.

    1. Completely Different than what Everyone expected = more buzz than if it was expected

    2. Everyone wil subconsciously associate Chocolate and Sweetness when using Nexus or android devices.

    3. This Gets Android out there more being that Google doesn’t have a Store like Apple it’s like free advertisement.

    4. A Nexus 5 Was Spotted During the Statue Reveal (of course on purpose) = more buzz

    5. THE BIG ONE – All of this Coming Days and Weeks before Samsung and Apple’s New Product Event.

  • FOG

    Not sure how interesting the alliance is but I’d see this as some kind of message…
    Kit Kat is actually multiple parts that fit together as a whole… Frangemented pieces that arranged together form the product…
    Android is getting more and more this way, splitting the different core software from the OS and working the different parts to they can be taken and updated independently…!

    For this reason I think Kit Kat is a good match!