In Google tradition, a monolithic Android mascot has been propped up in the form of the next codename for Google's mobile operating system, based off a photo Android head Sundar Pichai just posted on Twitter and Google Plus.
This time, however, the version is dubbed "KitKat" — and Google is actually, apparently, running a promotion with Nestlé as part of the arrangement.
The icons are part of a long tradition at Google's Android division: give the next version a codeword of something cute and sweet. Most tech companies do this: Apple does it for its operating systems, and Microsoft's Windows 8.1 was code-named "Blue," for example. The media and public then latch onto these codewords and make them widespread, and they become beloved in tech cultures — especially Android, which encourages hacking and tinkering.
And now Google is taking advantage of that, weaponizing it into a partnership with Nestlé. These deals usually come with a price tag, but Android Partnerships Director John Lagerling told the BBC that "this is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal." Google and Nestlé also confirmed to BuzzFeed that no money was exchanged.
"We're excited to announce this partnership with Android, the world's most popular mobile platform, which will help us to enable even more KitKat fans to enjoy their break," said Patrice Bula, Nestlé's head of marketing, said in the press release. (Note the language.)
So, it's an experiment, or Google just accidentally invented an advertising product — either way it's a brand new breed of corporate synergy.
Or maybe it's just a harmless plug from one of the most powerful advertising companies in the world. "KitKat has been a favorite candy among the engineering team for some time, so for the K release, we asked if they'd be willing to lend the iconic candy bar to its name," a Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed.
Of course, there are basically no details about the launch of Android 4.4: "It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody," the company's splash page for the version reads.
However, as part of the unveiling, Nestlé says more than 50 million specially branded KitKat bars will be available in 19 countries. Among those countries are some emerging markets like Brazil, where Google actually has an opportunity of eclipsing the more-expensive iPhone — at least, until a cheaper version comes out.
Matthew Lynley is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News in San Francisco. Lynley reports on Silicon Valley and the tech industry.
Contact Matthew Lynley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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