Branded products don't have to come off as incredibly dorky and non-sensical as Android's new operating system KitKat, named after the Nestlé-owned chocolate bar, just ask Apple. Google picked the candy as the code-name for Android 4.4 just for fun, John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, told the BBC News's Leo Kelion. "This is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal," he said. But, it still looks and feels like Android has turned into a giant ad for KitKat, a move that has predictably backfired. Many at first, thought the announcement was a joke. Even if it's not a joke, it's easy enough to make fun of it. But not all branded technology has to offend. Think back to 2004, when Apple released its special edition U2 iPod.
Watching then CEO Steve Jobs introduce the U2 branded music machine now is admittedly anti-climactic now:
The U2 iPod came in different colors, cost $50 more than the non-U2 model, featured the signatures of the band members etched into the back, and came with a $50 coupon for The Complete U2 available exclusively on the iTunes Music Store. The U2-branded iPod had its share of critics, proud Apple fanboy John Gruber mocked it with his "iPod Daring Fireball Special Edition." Paul Thurrott, a noted Windows fanboy, called it "curiously crippled" because of the price.
But, unlike KitKat, the U2 iPod wasn't just a marketing bid. Besides for the whole candy thing — Google names its phone operating systems after sweet treats — the Nestlé and Google partnerships doesn't make any sense. It's unclear what KitKats have to do with phone software. So far, Google has put out a parody video, mocking Apple videos. But, that's not really KitKat specific.
In addition to its silly brand proposition, the U2 iPod nudged people to the somewhat new iTunes store. Apple only launched the store part of its music software in April of 2003, about a year and a half earlier. By October 2004, only 150 million songs had been sold. Jobs wanted to foster the idea of purchasing music to keep as part of a collection. The U2 iPod did that. As of February 2013, 25 billion iTunes songs have been downloaded from iTunes. Oh, and that black and red version of the iPod now sells for $300 on eBay.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.