Codename neyyappam

Illustration: Sreejith R.Kumar   | Photo Credit: sreejith r.kumar

If Malayali netizens (and likeminded others) have their way, the upcoming version of Google's Android Operating System could be codenamed Neyyappam! People by the dozen have been logging on to #NameAndroidN microsite, through which Google is crowd-sourcing names for Android N, and casting their votes for the traditional Kerala snack made of rice and jaggery. Even Kerala Tourism has got in on the act and is urging people to vote for neyyappam through its Twitter handle. Meanwhile, techies, individually and collectively, are having a field day promoting the campaign among friends, colleagues and family through SMS forwards and emails and on social media.

“It’s become a matter of Malayali pride to vote for neyyappam. After all, it’s not every day that Kerala, or for that matter India, gets recognition on such as global platform as Android,” says Saju Maduppathi, an HR executive in Technopark. “The online world has a total different population distribution compared to the real world. Most names online come from the geek culture of Silicon Valley. Of late, for better or worse, Malayali population has been strong and vocal online. So it makes sense to have a finger-licking neyyappam version of Android,” says Arun S., a business analyst.

Each major release version of Android (since 1.5) is traditionally named after something sweet and that too in alphabetical order (see box). There have been 13 versions so far, with marshmallow being that of Android 6.0. Now, it’s time for version N and reportedly Google was stumped for names of desserts that begin with the letter. Hence, the campaign. Also, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, on his visit to the country last December, had raised the possibility of crowd-sourcing names for the next version of Android when posed a question in this regard. “I think neyyappam is a perfect choice. It’s a snack that’s well loved by Malayalis. The mere thought of one is enough to set off nostalgia,” says Sunilraj S., a technical architect. “Not to forget, neyyappam is also a sugar-free sweet, which might count in this age of health food fads. Besides, an Indian name is long overdue. People might vote for it, for the sheer novelty of it,” adds Shajad T.P., a senior project manager, at an MNC on campus.

Ultimately, though, it’s the folk at Google who will take the call. While #NameAndroidN home page does feature the word neyyappam prominently, it’s got stiff competition from the likes of nachos, nori (edible seaweed, a Japanese delicacy), nougat, nectar, nectarine, navy bean and even narshmallow (whatever that is) though none of them is technically a dessert per se. A Bangalore-based Malayali app developer is said to have kicked off the campaign for neyyappam.

Software tester Ajith Sreekumar S. believes that the campaign is doing a world of good for Kerala. “Naturally, people will be curious about neyyappam and Kerala, which will hopefully be a shot in the arm for tourism and our own IT industry,” he explains.

Gunning for the humble neyyappam they may be but almost all the techies admit, albeit reluctantly, that neyyappam’s chances are slim. “For one, it’s too niche/regional a dish and doesn’t have universal appeal. It’s doubtful anyone outside Kerala would know of it or even get to taste it,” says Vivek S.S., a senior software engineer, who works on campus.

“I’ve voted and now am trying to get the campaign maximum reach, which is just about the only thing each of us can do. The onus is on us to get neyyappam up there,” he adds. Then there’s the pronunciation issue. “Foreigners might find it difficult to pronounce it. They're likely to butcher it as neypaam, naaipam...or, worse, even napalm!” chortles Arun.

Many of them also believe that it’s nothing more than a clever marketing strategy by Google. “India is the biggest market for smart phones after China and the United States. Within India, Kerala, with its tech savvy population, is itself a huge market. What better way to get the word out there than a participatory campaign involving hundreds of potential customers?” asks Sunilraj.

Well, if neyyappam doesn’t pan out, Android Unniyappam, anyone?

(The name suggestions window closes on June 9 at 12:29 p.m. Log on to to vote for your favourite dessert, beginning with N.)

Top desserts

Previous Android versions, in the order:

* Cupcake

* Donut

* Éclair

* Froyo (frozen yoghurt) Gingerbread

* Honeycomb

* Ice-cream sandwich

* Jellybean

* Kitkat

* Lollipop

* Marshmallow

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 12:46:21 AM |

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