Tech Biz

Android 4.4 KitKat: Google Shocks with Name Change

Passing on “Key Lime Pie,” Android chooses Nestlé’s famous chocolate treat.

In a move that has shocked the tech industry, Google revealed that the upcoming Android 4.4 operating system will be named after Nestlé’s ubiquitous chocolate bar: KitKat. The controversial branding follows Google’s trend of naming new versions of its Android OS after sweets and desserts (in alphabetical order, i.e., Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean), although the Internet search giant had previously indicated that 4.4 would bear the name Key Lime Pie.

“We realized that very few people actually know the taste of a key lime pie,” said John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, in an interview with BBC. “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 continued: “We didn't even know which company controlled the name, and we thought that [the choice] would be difficult. But then we thought well why not, and we decided to reach out to the Nestlé folks.”

After landing on the KitKat name, Lagerling made a cold call to Swiss-owned Nestlé’s U.K. advertising agency, which then led to a conference call the following day. Twenty-four hours later, Nestlé confirmed the brand partnership with Android.

Executives from Google and Nestlé met in secret during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last February to finalize the agreement. Lagerling claims that no money has been exchanged between the two companies, stating that the partnership is simply to create something “fun and unexpected.”

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Nestlé will deliver more than 50 million KitKat bars, packaged in wrappers that bear Android’s green mascot, in 19 key markets (including the U.S., U.K., India, and Japan). The Android collaboration KitKats will also offer consumers the chance to win Google Play gift cards and a Nexus 7 tablet. The Swiss chocolatier has also delivered 500 special edition KitKats in the shape of the Android logo to Google staffers. The snacks had to be made in a secret location in Europe to preserve the secrecy of the partnership.

“Keeping it confidential was paramount to Google’s strategy,” said Patrice Bula, Nestlé’s marketing chief. “Absolutely nothing leaked.”

However, a video posted by Google that shows the unveiling of an Android KitKat statue may have inadvertently leaked an image of the company’s upcoming Nexus 5 smartphone. A man photographing the statue appears to be holding a never-before-seen Nexus-branded handset.

“We can see what appears to be an LG logo, a massive camera sensor with flash, and a similar styling (rounded 5-inch design) to the G2 – which the device has been rumored to have been based off of,” said DroidLife.

Other photos and angles of the suspected Nexus 5 can be scrutinized over at SlashGear.