Taking the biscuit

Google christens new Android 4.4 system ‘KitKat’

Lucy Carey

In a break from established procedure, Android names new system after Nestle treat – but should it have stuck with the less contentious Key Lime Pie?

talks with a Swiss super power. Mysterious code names and
misdirection, leading up to a dramatic revelation. The plot of the
thriller? No – just another day in the Android kitchen. Many people
were taken by surprise yesterday when Google announced that version
4.4 of their operating system would go under the moniker of
‘KitKat’, instead of the more conventionally generic banner of ‘Key
Lime Pie’, as had been strongly rumoured.  

Android is famous for naming its operating systems after sweet
treats, and their roster of past creations reads like a sugar
junkie’s dream, with names like Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Honeycomb,
Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean – but this is the first time
they’ve used an actual brand name (albeit with a small spatial
adjustment). Swiss confectioners Nestle were more than happy to get
on board with this decision, and though no money has changed hands,
a predictable slew of cross promotional tie-ins is poised to hit
the market.

Patrice Bula, Nestle’s marketing chief, told the BBC (presumably
from within his sinister gummy bear encrusted fortress) that when
Google pitched the idea, “Very frankly, we decided within an hour
to say let’s do it.”

The decision was apparently motivated by Kit Kat’s phenomenal
global popularity. John Lagerling, director of Android global
partnerships, explained that the rationale behind ditching ‘Key
Lime Pie’ was that, “We realised that very few people actually know
the taste of a key lime pie.”

Most likely Android was well aware of Nestle’s considerable trail
of scandal before it went ahead with forging the mighty chocolate
finger robot which now proudly stands amidst its fellow candy chums
in the Google HQ – the most infamous being the group’s
unethical pushing of baby milk substitutes in the third
world, which goes back as far as the seventies. Even today, Nestle
is in the news for peddling salmonella tainted pet products.

Whilst not quite on the scale on Nestle’s misdemeanours, Android
isn’t so blemish free itself. Android’s susceptibility to malware
attacks has been well publicised, even as the company’s lead
software engineers downplay risk to the general public, and any
headlines subsequent flaws generate will inevitably lead to a wave
of KitKat puns doing the rounds.

Apparently both parties were happy to brush the spectre of each
other’s mutual bugs in favour of this potentially lucrative
partnership. There’s already a jaunty parody promo
doing the rounds, and judging from the media
frenzy around the launch, the tactic appears to be paying off.
 Nestle is currently preparing to ship more than 50 million
Kit Kats featuring the Android mascot to 19 countries including the
UK, US, Brazil, India, Russia and Japan – but with Google
monitoring employees to limit in-office
candy consumption
, it seems unlikely that many
will be making their way to the Android office.

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