Google Announces 1B Total Android Activations, Names Next Version ‘KitKat’

Apple made waves this morning when it announced its oft-rumored September 10 event, but Google isn’t giving up the day’s limelight without a fight — according to a post on Sundar Pichai’s Google+ page, more than 1 billion Android devices have been activated to date. That’s not exactly a shock considering the sort of momentum we’ve seen in activations over the past few months. CEO Larry Page said there were 1.5 million Android activations a day back in July and Android device activations hit the 900 million mark earlier this year.

Even more puzzling than that is the name of the next version of Android, which bucks the long-standing trend of generic dessert names. As it turns out, Android 4.4 is going to be called “KitKat” and not “Key Lime Pie” as earlier thought, though at this point there’s still no official word on when we can expect to see the build go live. Kit Kats are of course a popular chocolate treat made by Nestle, and at this point we’re trying to determine how much this crazy little deal is worth, but the promotional blitz has already begun.

UPDATE: Google has confirmed to the BBC that the idea for the name originated with them, and that no money is changing hands as part of the deal.

Nestle has already kicked off a bizarre cross-promotion strategy that will bestow Nexus 7s and Google Play credits on those who find specially branded Kit Kat candy bars emblazoned with the Android logo, à la Willy Wonka. Yes, this is really happening. Apparently the agreement was finalized behind closed doors at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and all parties involved amazingly managed to keep the name under wraps (I slay me) for six months despite the fact that Nestle has been churning out that Android-laden packaging for 50 million candy bars.

Though the name itself is enough to get Android fans and mobile pundits talking, Google may be looking to expand its scope with this latest update. The newly anointed Android KitKit landing page claims that it’s the company’s goal “to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody,” which may hint at an expansion into different hardware segments. Google already has some skin in the smartphone and tablet games thanks to its acquisition of Motorola Mobility and hardware partnerships with Asus and LG, but it’s possible we could see Android KitKit powering a smartwatch — a move made partially possible by Google’s quiet acquisition of WIMM Labs last year.

[The life-sized Android KitKat featured in Sundar Pichai’s image was created by Themendous.]