Search Tech

Google Reveals What Searchers Wanted in 2017

The iPhone 8 and iPhone X ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in overall searches on Google this year, and No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the consumer tech search category on the Google Trends Year in Search 2017 list released Tuesday.

Bitcoin ranked No. 2 in global news searches, and “how to buy bitcoin” ranked No. 3 among how-to searches on Google in 2017.

The Nintendo Switch, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Xbox One X were the third, fourth and fifth most frequently used consumer tech search terms.

The lists are based on search terms that had a high spike in traffic in 2017 as compared to 2016.

“Those issues that directly touch the consumer, or are perceived to do so, will rise in search popularity,” said Michael Jude, research manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

A Few Surprises

The findings “probably correlated with the marketing budgets of the various vendors,” Jude told TechNewsWorld.

However, “I would have thought that some of the tech services — connected home stuff, automatic backup services, etc. — would have made the list,” he said.

The inclusion of the Nintendo Switch came as a surprise to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“I would’ve thought handheld gaming-focused devices went obsolete years ago,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Nintendo “has proven that they have a unique ability to bring concepts back from the dead,” Enderle noted. The Nintendo Switch “looks like a crippled tablet in that it doesn’t support things most tablets do, but folks really like it as a dedicated gaming device.”

Given the tie-in of Lenovo’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges smartphone-powered augmented reality headset to The Last Jedi, Enderle thought it might make the list, but “I expect it came out too late to get enough search volume to move ahead of the Xbox X or any of the smartphones,” he said.

Still, the AR headset, which is compatible with some iPhones and Android phones, “is selling very well and will go through updates — so watch it for next year,” Enderle predicted.

The Bitcoin Boom

“Bitcoin has been hyped tremendously in the press as everything from the next universal currency to a hedge against government debt default,” Frost’s Jude said. “It’s no wonder that the general public is starting to take notice.”

Interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is surging, and various commentators and investors predict bitcoin’s price could close in on the $1 million mark.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange launched trading in bitcoin futures Dec. 10 with the ticker symbol “XBT.” Trading was halted twice that day as the futures surged.

The CBOE’s bitcoin futures fell 10 percent Wednesday, triggering a two-minute halt to trading.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange will launch bitcoin futures trading on Dec. 17.

“Stories of people starting with (US)$100 of bitcoin and ending up multimillionaires likely contributed to the massive feeding frenzy on the cryptocurrency right now,” Enderle suggested. “Anything that looks like a valid get-rich-quick path will almost always get a lot of attention.”

Search Stats as Predictors

Search result statistics might indicate future trends, but given the rapidity of technological change, that might not hold less true for tech products.

Google’s 2017 search terms list “indicates point trends and shows that Apple still has a huge base of loyal buyers,” Enderle said.

“It shows that in 2018, folks will likely get excited about anything that looks to make them rich, and they likely will still have an affinity for hot consumer devices,” he added.

The search terms list “is a good bellwether, but you can’t really predict far into the future with it,” Enderle said. “People are mercurial in this regard, and what’s hot this month may every well be anything but next month.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.

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