Mmmm or Hmmm? Name Review for the Android OS 4.4 Kit Kat


In order, the Android software upgrades have been called Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and Kit Kat.  Now go brush your teeth so you don’t get a cavity.

Though I am no gastronome, this naming architecture seems a little strange.  First of all, the world of desserts doesn’t offer many names that are pleasing to the ear and sound like they are related to technology…

“Hey Jim, did you get the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade?”

“No, Sue, I’m still running on Froyo.”

“Well, you should at least get Gingerbread.”

Furthermore, naming the Android upgrades after desserts runs the risk of limiting the public’s perceptions about what their devices can and should be used for.  Android explains, “Since [smartphones and tablets] make our lives so sweet, each Android version is named after a dessert.”  But to me this reads: Android devices are best used for Candy Crush and other such indulgences!  I wonder: what about the vegetable activities like scheduling, organizing, trading stocks, calling your parents, reading, and navigating?  Am I really to trust my Kit Kat or my Donut to do all those things too?

But all is not sour.  One good thing about Android’s naming architecture—and a way in which it works better than Apple’s cat names—is that the desserts progress alphabetically. I have trouble, for example, remembering whether Lynx or Cougar or Leopard came first, but alphabet-savvy Android users have a simple and intuitive way to remember the different upgrades.   And it’s okay that the names start at C because, well, dessert enthusiasts have always started the alphabet at the letter C—just ask this guy.  (Actually, the first two Android versions were connected to the letters A and B but not named after deserts, so they started using desserts with Cupcake.)

But my quibbles about the architecture as a whole are irrelevant, because Android has established a pattern, and now they have to stick to it.

Is Kit Kat a good name? First of all, Android didn’t have too many K dessert options (though Key Lime Pie and Kringle, a Norwegian dessert my grandma used to make, both come to mind).  Klondike Bar I think sounds better, (and they generally have a cooler advertising campaign in my opinion), but Kit Kat has a lot going for it too—it is short, alliterative, fun to say, and is a well established household name (like, what the heck is Froyo, a hobbit?).  And though Kit Kat Bars may be associated with “breaking,” that association does not carry over to the software.

However, Android took a slight risk in using a branded dessert name for the first time.  The risk will pay off if consumers transfer their positive feelings for the candy onto the operating system.  The experiment will be less successful if consumers think Android looks desperate for trying to use another brand’s great chocolaty powers to market their product.  Perhaps more likely: people will not think of Kit Kat as better or worse than the other Android OS names and assume it was chosen just for kicks or for lack of options.

My guess is that the pairing will be successful.  Companies create these kinds of cross-marketing partnerships all the time, and consumers are used to it—Mountain Dew and Xbox collaborated to make Gamer Fuel, for example.  It will be interesting, though, to see if the next time an upgrade comes around Android returns to using generic sweets or partners with another brand—that might give the world some insight as to how well Android thinks the collaboration fared.  Licorice, Lollipop, and LifeSaver all come to mind as possibilities for Kit Kat’s successor.  Actually, I officially dare them to go with Laffy Taffy—complete with a joke on the back of every phone!

Grade: A-

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