October 21, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Ice Cream Sandwich

Typically our clients use an intentionally obscure project name to avoid internal rallying around the code name. Google seemed to embrace the methodology of marketing the code name, and has built an entire strategy out of the process. Enter Ice Cream Sandwich.


While I’m all for food references and love the imagery evoked by this new OS, the overall code naming strategy strikes me as an unsustainable practice.



  • It’s Google
  • The order/lineage is easy to understand … version C came before version D, etc.
  • Desserts are fun and have an approachable personality
  • It’s Google



  • Code names should be code names. If a company puts more marketing efforts into their code name, do they build any equity into the actual product name?
  • What is the strategy if there isn’t a recognizable dessert name that starts with the next letter in line for an upcoming version?
  • As a namer, I wanted to ask about the story behind Ice Cream Sandwich; uncovering that it’s simply the next in line from an initial letter standpoint wasn’t enough for me. Cupcake is cute; short and sweet. Honeycomb referenced the structure behind the technology (and while I don’t classify it as a dessert, I get that it’s a sweet). Ice Cream Sandwich (intentionally missing the grammatically correct article preceding it) is designed to serve as ‘one OS everywhere’ but the name isn’t reflective of that messaging.


Personally, I would have preferred ‘Icing’ as the next in line. It’s one word, is typically referred to as the ‘best part of the cake’, and evokes a premium quality. Can’t wait to see what they do with J.


  1. Rachel   October 22, 2011 1:22 am / Reply

    Hmmm. I never pondered the cons of Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich.

  2. Andris Pone   October 24, 2011 2:55 pm / Reply

    While I do not believe this naming system is optimal, I am encouraged that Android is at least trying to differentiate their products and using naming as a tool to accomplish that.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of product, service and company names in the technology space are dreadful. Carefully-planned, meaningful naming is a major, as-yet-largely-untapped, opportunity for tech companies to tell us why they’re worth buying from.

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