Apple's dominance reached outside the bounds of the technology industry, as the company's mythological iPhone 5, late Chairman Steve Jobs and iPad 2 took three out of the 10 spots in the Google Zeitgeist 2011.
The collection of the most-searched stuff on Google has become a barometer for cultural relevance, giving a quantifiable hierarchy of what the world cared enough about to fill out a search query. In and of itself, the Zeitgeist reveals little, but taken in the aggregate, it tells a greater story. People, controversies, products... Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., was the only entity represented by all three on the list. Lately, it's been in a vigorous corporate rivalry with Mountain View, Calif.-based Google.
Apple co-founder Jobs reached ninth place on the list, keeping a steady clip of relevance throughout 2011 with the rumored release of several new Apple products, including an iPad refresh, the iPhone 5 and iCloud. The gossip swirling around the company has kept it in the social consciousness as its string of fawned-over products briefly made it the most valuable company on the planet. Jobs enjoyed a period of tangential popularity in the search world as a result.
Jobs himself was a veritable rumor mill. His occasional and casual responses to emails from customers created a flood of second-guessing and gossip. Jobs was also a model of secrecy: his resignation on Aug. 24 without a clear explanation.His death on Oct. 5 sent Steve Jobs searches skyrocketing the week of Oct. 2.
The surge coincided with interest in an Apple product -- one that has yet to be released. Jobs died a day after the announcement of the iPhone 4S, a product met with a collective shoulder shrug simply because it wasn't the iPhone 5, which was No. 6 on the Zeitgeist. The mythical product has been rumored to be a complete seismic change for Apple's best-selling product, with improvements of a larger screen, capacitive home button and 4G connectivity among the new features. Google searches about the iPhone 5 reached a peak the week after Sept. 25, days before the iPhone 4S, and only the iPhone 4S, was introduced.
Apple's place on the Zeitgeist was not all tragedies and disappointment. One product did finally arrive, when Apple unleashed the iPad 2 on March 11. Searches for the tablet peaked two weeks before the product's release.
Other entries on Google's Annual Zeitgeist included Ryan Dunn, Rebecca Black and Casey Anthony.