Linux out-Googles Microsoft

The top search terms on Google for 2002 show Spider-Man as the fastest climber, while Nostradamus is yesterday's news. Other surprises included Linux beating Microsoft

Spider-Man was the fastest climber among search terms on Google in 2002, according to statistics released by the popular search engine on Monday, which give an insight into the zeitgeist of the online community.

Google averages about 15 million visitor hours each month, compared with Yahoo! search at six million hours, according to Danny Sullivan, who runs Search hours are calculated by multiplying the number of site visitors by the average number of minutes each spends at the site.

As memories of the millennium slipped away, so too did the popularity of Nostradamus -- who famously predicted the end of the world but not, it seems, his own speedy demise in Google's rankings.

The fall of Nostradamus was followed by bankrupt song-swapping service Napster, the assets of which were finally bought in November by Roxio, a company best known for creating CD-burning technology.

Other search terms that experienced the most rapid decline in popularity were World Trade Center at number three, then Anthrax, Osama Bin Laden and Taliban. As events on the world's political stage lost mindshare among the online community, the singer Shakira showed a marked increase in popularity second only to that of Spider-Man. Her rise in the rankings was followed by the Winter Olympics, the World Cup, Avril Lavigne and Star Wars.

The top technology search term for 2002 was MP3, indicating a continued demand for the compression technology. The mobile phone texting format, SMS, was in second place, followed by the compression tool Winzip, and Linux at number four, beating ninth-placed Microsoft in the Google stakes. Dell was the highest-ranking computer company, at number six, and the Xbox came in at number seven despite analyst estimates that Microsoft's games console is not selling as fast as had been predicted.

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