As a developer, I’m constantly reading up on new techniques, trying to solve weird technical problems and following coding discussions online. Lately, I’ve been writing iPhone apps so that might be why I didn’t notice the change sooner. Recently, as I was typing in a search phrase and Google Suggest was trying to read my mind and help me out, I had to stop mid keystroke. Google nailed it. Now, we all know that Google spends tons of time and cash to keep all of their algorithms in top shape. Their suggest feature is supposed to know what I’m about to type, but in this case, it was eerie. I typed in the words “Application Failed”. I didn’t even get all the way through the word “Failed” and Google knew that I was looking for some really obscure error message that only an Apple developer would run into.
It was then that all of the other odd and quirky little pieces fell into place. All those little bits of info that had been just milling about in the back of my head suddenly all came together. I had been seeing this for a while with other searches.
It seemed to me that the words “Application Failed” (without quotes) should be pretty ubiquitous to a search engine. I mean, today alone, out in the world there could have been thousands of conversations with those two words. How could Google have known that I was looking for some really obscure error message that only a developer would ever see?
I cleared my cookies, did the query from a phone’s browser, on two different operating systems, on Safari and on Firefox. Later, I tried at my parents’ house, and in all cases, I found the same thing. I dug further and started using other very common phrases that could be tied to just about anything. I tried to keep the words “conversational”, using fragments of sentences. Google, using its super “web brain” and access to the queries of billions, did its best to predict what a person would likely type next.
Apple is everywhere! For the list of words and phrases below (that have nothing at all to do with Apple), an Apple product comes up at the top of the list somewhere. For “I want an” (without quotes) Google suggested I might want an iPhone, iPad, iPhone Cartoon and a baby, in that order. Go give it a try. If you type “I want an”, Google is pretty sure you are looking for an Apple gadget, with a human baby bringing up a distant 4th or 5th guess.
- Application Failed
- Switch To
- I want an
- get a free
- “as good as an”
- best reasons to
- buy an
- “I need an”
At the recent September event, Steve Jobs threw around a bunch of stats, but two really impressed me. According to Jobs, there are 230,000 new iOS devices activated every day, and 200 apps are downloaded from the App Store every second. Over a thousand were downloaded in the time it took me to type these three sentences.
I’ve given it some thought and I have to agree with Google—with just the people around me (friends, family, coworkers, etc…) there has been a big spike in the number of Apple products I see. A year ago, only a handful of people around me had iPhones and now it seems like every other person has gone Apple.
Maybe that’s why when you type in the words “switch to”, Google suggests “A Mac”.
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