Google Zeitgeist 2011: It's Apple's World

You can talk about Windows, you can play with Android, but according to Google, what people really wanted to know about in 2011 was Apple products, Apple services, and, oh yes, Apple.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

It's Apple's World.

According to Google, it's Apple's world.

Every year Google takes a look at what we've been searching for on the Internet in 2011 in its Google Zeitgeist list. A lot of it shows that we love our dumb stuff. For example, Rebecca Black, whose fame rests entirely on one awful song and video, Friday, was the number one search. Looking deeper into the lists you'll see that when it comes to technology, we couldn't get enough of Apple.

On Google's master list of the 10 fastest-rising global queries, you'll find three Apple subjects represented: the iPhone 5 (whoops!), Steve Jobs and the iPad2. Of technology-related subjects, only Google's new social network, Google+ and the hot new game Battlefield 3 placed higher.

You might think Apple got so much attention because of Steve Jobs' death. You'd be wrong. While Jobs death placed him ninth on the overall search list, the Fastest Rising Technology list was filled with Apple searches.

Number one was a surprise, or at least it was to me: iCloud. In the technology business we may be arguing about how important the cloud will, or won't, be, but people at large clearly want to use the cloud and they want to use it now.

I wasn't as surprised by number two: Mac OS X Lion.. After all this was a major operating system release and it was the first that Apple had ever made available, ala Linux, as a download.

From number three to six we finally meet the technologies I would have guessed would have made the list: the iPad 2, the iPod Touch 5G, and the iPhone 5. What catches my eye here is that while those of us on technology's cutting edge are always talking about smartphones and tablets, a lot of ordinary people are still very interested in the idevice family's inexpensive little brother: the iPod.

It's only at number seven that we finally find a non-Apple related subject; Adobe's Acrobat Reader X. Why? I suspect it made the list because from the beginning of the year to its end this essential PDF reader program had one major security problem after another.

Steve Jobs came in next on the technology list at number eight. But, this is something of an illusion. The Zeitgeist list measures the change in interest in a subject. Steve Jobs has always been popular and so even his death wouldn't move the needle that much.

Next we come to HP's Touchpad. The irony here is that the Touchpad made the list because HP killed it and then, when the company dumped the remaining Touchpad inventory on the market.

In a way, this too is an Apple story. It showed that people didn't want just iPads... if they could get a tablet at an affordable price. HP may not have gotten the point, but Amazon, with its Kindle Fire, and Barnes & Noble, with the Nook Tablet, certainly did.

Rounding up the list we finally find an Android tablet. But, it's certainly isn't the Samsung Galaxy I expected. Instead, the Toshiba tablet, the Thrive that was getting people's attention.

If you look just at the fastest rising gadgets, then things get much more diverse. The Kindle Fire is now on top, with the iPhone 4s right behind it and there's a host of other devices including a goodly number of other Android devices. If you look at at the world's Fastest Rising Consumer Electronics list, you'll see similar results.

Taken all in all, it's crystal clear. You can talk all you want about other technologies and gadgets, but what everyone really wants to know about is Apple products, Apple technologies, and still more Apple.

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