Google announced this morning that the company had activated more than 1 billion Android devices. And in a very interesting and irregular move decided to name the next version of the Android OS after commercial candy bar KitKat.
The candy company is giving away Nexus 7 devices or Google Play credit in stores if users buy branded packages of KitKat. KitKat is produced by Hersey’s in the US and Nestle in the UK and Europe.
The immediate questions that popped into my mind were: 1) who came up the with cross-promotion idea and 2) how much money is changing hands? Google told the BBC that it came up with the idea and that no money is changing hands:
Google told the BBC that it had come up with the idea and that neither side was paying the other.
“This is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal,” John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, told the BBC. Instead, he said, the idea was to do something “fun and unexpected”.
We’re following up with Google and will update this post should they provide any statement or response. (See postscript below for update.)
Who might this promotion help more, Google or KitKat? It should significantly raise the profile and boost sales of KitKat in the short term. There will be a ton of coverage in newspapers and TV, which will drive sales. The Nexus/Google Play promotion will also drive sales.
While the coverage will help with Nexus 7 marketing and awareness it’s unlikely to have a major impact on Android device sales, however.
There are unmistakeable shades of Willy Wonka here, as users flock to buy KitKat bars for a chance to win a Google device. It’s not clear how many Nexus 7 devices are part of this promotion or how much Google Play credit is being given away.
Postscript: Google confirmed that money was exchanged as part of the promotion, in contrast to the comment published by the BBC above. Google also told us that “more than 50 million specially branded Kit Kat bars will be available in 19 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Middle East, Russia, and the United States.”
However the company declined to offer any statement about the specific numbers of Nexus 7 tablets being given away or the aggregate value of Google Play credit being offered as part of the promotion.
Postscript 2: Google quickly emailed me again and corrected itself saying that no money was exchanged, in accordance with the statement provided to the BBC above.
Postscript 3: See Kit Kat Gets Behind Android KitKat With “Kit Kat 4.4″ Candybar Phone Parody Ad & Website for more on how Kit Kat is backing the new name.