Why Google has called Android 4.4 'KitKat' - and why it is better for Nestle than Google

Android KitKat: co-branding masterpiece or marketing disaster?

In bizarre circumstances, Google has announced that the next version of Android will be called KitKat and not Key Lime Pie as was previously thought.

The internet search giant usually names its mobile operating system versions in alphabetical order using a general name for a treat or desert rather than a brand name. One example is Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. However, instead of the expected Key Lime Pie, the next Android will be named after Nestle's popular KitKat chocolate bar. See also: Nexus 5 release date, price and specs rumours.

Google said: "As everybody finds it difficult to stay away from chocolate, we decided to name the next version of Android after one of our favourite chocolate-covered treats, KitKat!"

Android 4.4 KitKat: Google's explanation

If, like us, you're wondering why the makers of a mobile operating system with more than 1 billion activations would need to pull a stunt like this, then you're not alone. It might make some sense if money had changed hands... but apparently not. "This is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal," John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, told the BBC.

Instead, the firm simply wanted to do something "fun and unexpected".

Okay, KitKat is globally a more widely known name and brand compared to Key Lime Pie, but does it matter? What does this mean for Android and KitKat?

Android 4.4 KitKat: Won't be the next major version of Android

It was widely thought that Key Lime Pie would be version 5.0 of Android and a significant update to the operating system but Google has confirmed that KitKat will be 4.4 following on from 4.3 Jelly Bean.

This suggests it will be a smaller update not worthy of a new shiny new version number. Since details on the new features are unavailable at the moment, we'll have to wait and see.

Android 4.4 KitKat: A massive marketing opportunity for Nestle

Since no money was involved in the deal, it seems that Nestle is the big winner here. Android is the number one mobile operating system in the world and clearly doesn't need any help with awareness. It might make a little bit more sense for a new starter to partner with an existing and well-known brand to put itself out there in the public's consciousness.

So, Nestle is the clear winner in the deal giving it the opportunity to use the Android branding and mascot to shift more sticks of chocolate. See below.

"To make this release even sweeter, KitKat is giving you the chance to win a Nexus 7 or Google Play credit. Just look for specially branded KitKat chocolate bars featuring the Android robot in a shop near you." said Google.

As well as the promotional bars, the KitKat website has been transformed into a spoof smartphone page advertising its 'adjustable orientation' and 'compatibility with all liquid accessories'.

It's even given Nestle the chance to make this advertising campaign below.

Android 4.4 KitKat: Bad news for Google?

When two companies co-brand it means that each is automatically associated with the other. While it seems to be only good for Nestle, the opposite might be true for Google to some degree. Nestle has been criticised in the past for promoting its powdered baby milk in the developing world, fixing the price of chocolate (including KitKat) and being involved with child labour in the production of cocoa.

Even Google has admitted that it's a risk, saying: "When you try to lead a new way of communicating and profiling a brand you always have a higher risk than doing something much more traditional."

"You can go round the swimming pool 10 times wondering if the water is cold or hot or you say: 'Let's jump.'"

Android 4.4 KitKat: A sign of things to come?

With a move like this, could we see the L version of Android get a big name brand slapped onto it? Google could join forces with General Mills' Lucky Charms, Wonka's Laffy Taffy or Ferrara's Lemonhead.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

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