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Android 4.4 KitKat: a Google-Nestle MWC 2013 no-money deal

Curious to hear the story about Google's Android 4.4 KitKat? Read on for more details!
September 3, 2013
Android 4.4. KitKat

Google shocked Android fans earlier today when it announced the next step for its mobile operating system: Android 4.4 KitKat, without revealing too many details as to why the OS will soon have a name that sounds very much like Nestle’s KitKat.

We wondered whether the name choice was beneficial for Google or not, but then we learned thanks to a BBC story that the KitKat move wasn’t a rushed action from the Search giant meant to shock the mobile audience on this particular day.

Instead Google was following a well-established – and very secret – plan dating back to November 2012, when officials from the two companies first talked about the idea.

However, it was at this year’s Barcelona-, Spain, based Mobile World Congress edition that Nestle and Google met to finalize the deal.

According to the publication, Google considered the name of a popular candy owned by Nestle – starting with a “K” to follow Jelly Bean – since last year as the name of Google’s next-gen mobile OS because it had a stronger brand that Key Lime Pie, a dessert that doesn’t have as many fans.

Interestingly, it started as a “cold call” from Google’s John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, to Nestle’s UK ad agency. The Swiss company then followed through with a conference call, and the name was decided “within an hour.”

Best of all, this is a no-money deal, meaning that neither side is paying the other in order to enjoy this new “coolness by association” status – although the deal comes with its share of risk for both parties, as KitKat will tie Google and Nestle for better and for worse.

Nestle KitKat
Nestle KitKat packaging | Image source: BBC

Meanwhile, the media was waiting for Android 5.0 aka Key Lime Pie to be the next Android version with a dessert name – that was even before the first Android 4.3 Jelly Bean traces were spotted online. Even after Android 4.3 was launched, most people were expecting Android 5.0 to be the next-gen OS.

Except for a “tight team”, most Google employees were kept way out of the loop, as they were told that Android 4.4 was supposed to be called Key Lime Pie, which is what the press – us included – kept referring to Google’s next Android build that was to follow Jelly Bean.

The strategy worked very well for the company – apparently much better than anticipated – as KitKat was never considered as a potential dessert name for Android. Instead, even in talks with partners Key Lime Pie was used.

Furthermore, Nestle went on with KitKat packaging plans for no less than 50 million chocolate bars that will feature the Android mascot without raising any suspicions – apparently packaging has been produced in advanced over the past two months. And those candy bars will be sold in 19 markets “including the UK, U.S., Brazil, India, Japan and Russia.”

As for chocolate-loving Android fans, the packaging does seem to reveal that there’s some Nexus stuff to be won with KitKat purchases.

However, it’s not yet clear when Android 4.4. KitKat will be promoted via Nestle KitKat bars. But the first KitKat video does seem to suggest that Google has high hopes for the OS – even if it makes fun of a certain rival in it.

That appears to be the story of KitKat, once only a dessert name, now a future Android OS version.