Zeitgeist: iPhone 5 Keyword Sixth Most Popular On Google Search In 2011

Google’s 2011 Zeitgeist list cites the search term “royal wedding” as this year’s fastest rising Google keyword search, beating out “iPhone 5.” But read how this story betrays the huge popularity of the iPhone 5 in search for 2011.

If you search iPhone 5 news on a daily basis, you’re bound to come upon a litany of stories today about the “iPhone 5″ search word, and how William and Kate’s “Royal Wedding” keyword beat it out as the “fastest-rising keyword” of 2011. Meant to surprise all of the millions who followed the iPhone 5 rumors intently all throughout 2011, tech websites like PC Advisor are running stories with titles such as: “Royal Wedding beats iPhone 5 to fastest-rising seach term of 2011,” and commenting that “Apple’s iPhone 5, or the name we all hoped Apple would give to the next iteration of its smartphone which was released this year, came in second.”

My first thought when reading these stories was conspiratorial: I thought, Google must be trying to downplay the popularity of the iPhone 5 heading into 2012, since, as the Publisher of the iPhone 5 News Blog, I am well aware of the unbridled popularity of the “iPhone 5” keyword. This blog, after all, has had 9.2 million visits in 2011 alone. I even set up a draft title for this post asking whether or not Google might be trying to demoralize iPhone 5 enthusiasts in order to to curb the again-rising enthusiasm.

But after checking Google’s new Zeitgeist list directly, the story angle changed: “iPhone 5″ checked in at sixth most popular search term in 2011.

That’s more like it.

For as much as the “fastest rising keyword” list on Zeitgeist might be interesting, it pales in comparison to the overall search list. This month alone, the “iPhone 5” keyword is garnering 16,600,000 global monthly searches (according t0 Google AdWords), compared to 5,000,000 for “royal wedding.” Sorry, William and Kate, but you just aren’t nearly as cool and exciting as the prospect of an iPhone 5 in 2012.

Another thing to consider: celebrity searches always remain at the top of Google searches, particularly when a major event surrounds them. Case in point: Ryan Dunn, Casey Anthony, and Steve Jobs all made the top 10 as a result of deaths and acquittals, respectively. But those searches on Google did not have nearly the consistency that “iPhone 5” did throughout the course of 2011.


iphone 5 search volume in 2011

“iPhone 5″ keyword search volume on Google in 2011

The graph above shows the steady incline of interest in the iPhone 5 from the onset of January 2011. And even after the release of the iPhone 4S, interest has already returned to the level of buzz recorded back in early June, prior to the WWDC.

As a contrast, looking at “royal wedding reveals a decidedly different graph for 2011 performance:

"royal wedding" search volume, 2011

“royal wedding” search volume, 2011

“Royal wedding” may have enjoyed a huge peak around the time of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, but that keyword term had no longevity throughout 2011, and the search term has bottomed out since the royal nuptials.

iPhone 5 Buzz In 2011

It remains to be seen how popular the “iPhone 5″ search will be in 2012. While on one hand, the seemingly inevitable release of the iPhone 5 would seem to suggest that the popularity of the search term in 2011 will only be compounded in 2012, there are others who suggest that Apple may have burned some of the iPhone 5 buzz with the release of the iPhone 4S. To be sure, many of the iPhone users who upgraded to the iPhone 4S may not be in the market (or the running) for the iPhone 5 in 2012, now that they’ve locked in to new contracts. There is also the potential Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome for iPhone users: some might feel scorned by the hype of the iPhone 5 in 2011 and the letdown of the new device being the refreshed iPhone 4S.

Since the release of the iPhone 4S, the traffic to this blog has been down sharply, and many of the readers who commented regularly have been absent from post-iPhone 4S discussions. It remains to be seen if they will be returning in 2012 to join the watching and waiting for the iPhone 5. But it’s hard to imagine that the new year won’t bring it a new rush of excitement over the new iPhone iteration.



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