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OS X 10.9 not just called 10.9 but also Mavericks.

iOS7 is just called iOS7.

Android releases are named after sweets.

What is the rationale of giving a name to a release version?
What are the benefits if any?

Most apps simply increment the number as they push new releases.

Is naming a release (Mavericks, Kit kat etc...) just for marketing purpose?

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4 Answers 4

Naming a release makes it easier to remember and reference, in particular for the lay-person.

Instead of a string of numbers, you just have a name to use.

Of course - this is mostly useful for marketing - but when people talk about a release, it makes it easier to know exactly which one is being referenced.

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Whats more, one cannot trademark a bunch of numbers (intel tried with the 586 and was denied, so named it the Pentium). –  MichaelT Nov 1 '13 at 14:57
    
@MichaelT Boeing disagrees with you. –  Mike Nov 1 '13 at 15:38
    
Silly USPTO.gov website. This should be a permalink to Boeing's trademark on '737'. –  Mike Nov 1 '13 at 15:56
    
@Mike Yet Intel was indeed denied the trademark on 586 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark). Curiously though, as the Pentium processors were introduced earlier, that happened before the 737 trademark was awarded. My initial guess was that people had wisened up and made it impossible to award trademarks on number sequences. But it seems to be the other way around? Interesting. –  Marjan Venema Nov 1 '13 at 16:09
    
@Mike The trademark for 586 shows 'dead'. This might be in part because competitors also used x86 previously. Trying to claim a trademark on 10.9 would have broad impact on anyone using the version 10.9 publicly. –  MichaelT Nov 1 '13 at 21:39

It protects you from Marketing, to some degree. How many times has marketing decided that something was going to be called "Foo 2.0" when the 2.0 designation makes no sense from a technical perspective? If you treat build and revision numbers as separate from the marketing name (1.8.14 -> "Foo 2.0"), and assign an easy-to-remember name to the milestone version that is going to get released under marketing's label, you can discuss both concepts without concern for how often "Foo 2.0" might get renamed or if an extra minor revision is included. Consider:

1.8.14 -> 1.8.21 -> Cornwall -> "Foo 2.0" -> NuFoo).

You can talk about Cornwall for weeks while you fix minor issues that crop up and push your minor version numbers up, and while the marketroids argue over what the most market-forward name is.

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Once you've worked on various bits of code for years, calling releases by their unfriendly version number becomes problematic, so internal projects are given friendly names. Sometimes its relevant to what you're trying to accomplish in the project, but the privilege tends to go with the lead developer, so it can just be whatever is on their mind at the time.

Long story short, it's for fun and convenience.

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Naming a release allows to do the development (using that name for in things like VCS branches) without waiting for the marketing to decide how they should be numbered and without having to explain to newcomers that the branch V107 is used for the release 2.

Then the name leaks, marketing want to control it, and changes it 2 days before the release.

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