Why we care about Android KitKat: bike sheds

Why a candy-licensed Android name draws more buzz than a €5 billion deal

Three big things happened today in the mobile world. Microsoft made official their plans to buy Nokia's mobile business. Apple invited the media to its campus for a presumably iPhone-related Sept. 10 event. Lastly, Google announced the name of Android 4.4: KitKat, under license from Hershey's. Guess which one is generating the most discussion?

You know about Parkinson's Law of Triviality, don't you? Today's news is just about a perfect modern update to that genius work of 1950's organizational psychology analysis. A moment should be taken for this perfect analogy.

What Microsoft is doing, according to colleague John Ribeiro at IDG News Service, is paying ...:

€3.79 billion for "substantially all" of the Devices & Services business and €1.65 billion to license Nokia's patents at the close of the transaction.

Most of us cannot really size up or portion out 3.79 billion in U.S. currency in our heads, let alone European shekels or bottle caps or whatever it is they trade over there. Business divisions, patent licensing, long-term corporate mergers—onward runs the corporate-speak until reels the mind. And the official announcement of an iPhone that seems a lot like the iPhone we know fairly well, on a schedule like Woody Allen's film projects, generates some discussion, but not much pointed debate (outside the comments).

But Google and Android, two huge things, naming their Next Big Thing after a gol-durn candy bar? We know KitKats! We know about things that have funny names! And we will express our surprise, joy, head-shaking disappointment, confusion, declarations of lameness, and best guesses for the future as a result:

Some rhetorical birdshot follows. Does any phone maker put Jelly Bean, KitKat, or any other Android version on the box, or in their advertising? Hardly ever. Does the Android version name show up while using the phone? Not even in the deep "About" settings, which lists the version as a number. Will KitKat look anything alike on, say, an HTC phone as compared to the Moto X? Not really. Does Google have enough money and stable business to make a little side deal with a candy bar brand that many of us might smile when it comes to mind? Yes, the firm certainly does. And that deal might not even involve "money changing hands".

Most of all, is the KitKat deal generating lots and lots of discussion and traffic, despite the ultimate triviality of any software naming scheme, let alone Android? It seems so. Google has released more than a few of these Android systems out to phone makers and open-source coders, and they know that the version name is something you can pretty easily laugh about. And it's something we'll all talk about, because it's the most human-size headline in the tech news today. The name on the batch of code—code that does nothing outside a device itself—is as relevant as the color of the shed you put the bicycles inside. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to track down a 100 Grand, the only candy bar that seems safe from software consternation.

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