Taking the biscuit

Google christens new Android 4.4 system 'KitKat'

Clandestine 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 video 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.

Lucy Carey

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