With Android KitKat, now Google really is the Chocolate Factory

As tech news days went, yesterday was probably one of the biggest in a long time.

First, Redmond announced that Microsoft was acquiring Nokia’s products, services and patents for $7.4bn, with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop rushing to the top of the bookies’ list as red hot favourite for the Microsoft CEO berth.

It was huge news yesterday morning, but now seems like ages ago.

In the afternoon, Cupertino cemented plans and sent out invites for a ‘special event’ on September 10, almost certain to be featuring a new iPhone.

And whilst everyone was reeling from that, Google of course hit the media with a knockout punch, announcing that the new iteration of Android will be Android KitKat.

Key Lime Pie is dead; long live KitKat. But what are the implications of this?

A branding match made in heaven, or just a gimmick?

The first thing which needs to be mentioned is how impressive a job Google and Nestle did of keeping this under wraps. According to reports, Google had decided on the collaboration at the back of last year, with the BBC reporting that a special meeting between the companies at Mobile World Congress sealed the deal.

The second thing which needs to be mentioned is that no money was exchanged. Being purely a contra deal, the partnership puts a lot of stock in both company’s brand reputations, which could be an interesting one.

Given Google’s company motto is ‘don’t be evil’, it may raise some eyebrows with marketers who have followed the controversy surrounding Nestle over the years, particularly with regard to the Nestle boycott, started in 1977 because of the company’s “aggressive marketing” strategy for baby milk products.

Not everyone was pleased with the announcement. Jeffrey Van Camp, writing for Digital Trends, said that it was “a sad move” and added: “Google has gotten a lot of praise for making Android an open-source project, but it’s hard not to be a little let down if it’s now willing to sell out the name of its operating systems.”

Looking at the OS itself, Android KitKat is only 4.4, not the long awaited Android 5.0. While it’s safe to say that 5.0 will involve a huge overhaul, could this be a sweetener – to pardon the expression – with a big branding gimmick to gloss over the fact it’s not a new OS with not as many new features?

Nestle executives reportedly agreed to partner with Google in less than 48 hours, which isn’t really much of a surprise.

Marc Vanlerberghe, director of Android marketing at Google, said in a statement that “we couldn’t imagine a better name for our Android K release than the tasty chocolate that’s been a favourite among the team since the early days of Android” – as if that really matters.

Regardless, the added marketing push both sides stand to gain from this will be impressive. In exchange for Mountain View’s branding clout, Nestle will slap the Android logo on more than 50 million KitKat bars in 19 markets across five continents.

The KitKat website, which takes the form of an Android product announcement, has garnered plenty of praise on Twitter. And it’ll certainly be interesting to see how this will impact sales of the Nestle chocolate bar – watch this space.

What do you think of this partnership?

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4 Sep 2013, 11:29 a.m.

In all honesty I think it is very innovative. It will be fun to follow along and see how this goes.