The End of an Era

The mystique has come to an end.

According to multiple reports, Android will no longer have sweet-themed release names.

If this is true, Pie is a good way to go out, but it’s an interesting decision on Google’s part. Not only do they lose a wildly popular bit of their brand, but the stated reasons for making the decision don’t quite add up.

It’s a rare corporate decision that can’t be revisited. Change your logo and lose sales? Change it again to something closer to the original. Refocus on a new target market and take a bath? Bring back an old corporate spokesperson to re-engage with the original buyers (anyone remember when Snap, Crackle, and Pop vanished, only to return?)

But this is a decision Google can’t take back. If, a year from now, they announce that Android R will be named “Rice Pudding,” then retroactively the “Android Q” move will seem like a ploy to get free advertising from the media. Nor would (ahem) sugar-coating the news by claiming that Q was named Quisp (or Quince, or anything else really) within the company improve the look.

Why are they doing this? I’ve seen two claimed reasons.

The media focuses on the name rather than the new features. So? As long as users use the OS and manufacturers license the Google apps, do you think Google really cares whether the free advertising focuses on the name or the spiffy new Back button functionality?

People complained that the names weren’t inclusive enough. People switch phones for a lot of reasons, but I really doubt Google was losing business to iOS over the code names. But if I’m wrong about that, Google could improve the naming process. The company is already in the spotlight over diversity issues; improving representation in the group that chooses Android names would fall right in line with their efforts to do more improve representation throughout the company.

Of course, the reports could be wrong. Android Q will be out next month, possibly as soon as next week. Maybe we’ll find out that it’s actually named Quinoa–hey, if you can make rice pudding, why not a sweet quinoa-based cake?

2 thoughts on “The End of an Era

  1. Well, this is a little puzzling to me.
    I use a fairly late model Samsung phone, with an Android operating system. It’s the third I’ve owned, but not once have I been aware of, or even curious about, the name of the OS. It’s the the OS that runs the phone. Now and then a cute little, green critter pops up and gets updated, somehow, I restart my phone and life goes on. I suppose, if I’d been asked, I would have guessed that “my” OS had some kind of designation, but “sweet”? Who knew?
    What makes this interesting to me is, since I’ve owned my first computer, nearly thirty years ago, I’ve always been aware of what operating system I was using- whether Apple or Microsoft. Changing operating systems were always a big, and sometimes traumatic, deal. What runs my phone, though; who cares? Evidently, not me. I didn’t even know that I didn’t know- and I still don’t know. That’s life.

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    • I could point out that now you know what it is that you don’t know you don’t know, but that might be getting a little too meta.

      As for your underlying point, I blame Apple and Microsoft. Apple started it by naming their computer OS “OS X 10” and then giving each yearly release a name that has no chronological significance. Is “El Capitan” before or after “High Sierra”? Then Microsoft followed suit: “Windows 10 Creators Update” doesn’t tell you much about how it relates to “Windows 10 Anniversary Update” does it?

      At least Android’s naming scheme is alphabetical. You may not know what the differences are between “Ice Cream” and “Kit Kat,” but you can immediately tell that the product placement release is newer.

      But with Apple and Microsoft getting people used to ignoring the names, it becomes very easy to ignore the actual version. And phone makers’ notorious slowness to update phones doesn’t help. If you don’t get Nougat on your phone until after Google has released Pie, why even think about what you’ve got? It is what it is.

      (And changing operating systems on a computer is still traumatic. Look at all the trouble Microsoft had with last October’s release. They wound up skipping that update for most users and are now jumping them straight from last Spring’s release to the latest.)

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