Google just released its annual retrospective on what the world was searching for in 2014. The company has apparently given up on calling its year in review the Google Zeitgeist and opted for the more humble "Year in Search." The lists include everything from top trending overall searches to top trending GIFs.
The story behind the story: Although it's stopped using the moniker, Zeitgeist was an entirely appropriate name for Google's yearly top trending search lists. As the most popular search engine in the world, Google has a special insight into what the world is thinking about at any given time. Google has used this ability to track flu hotspots (albeit with reportedly mixed results) and aid in disasters. At the end of the calendar year, it's always interesting to see what the world was most fascinated with during the previous twelve months.
What topped the lists
The tragic death of Robin Williams, who took his own life in August, topped both the global and U.S. top trending searches for 2014. Williams was followed by the World Cup, Ebola, and the Malaysia Airlines disaster in both the U.S. and the overall global searches.
Once you leave the top four the global and U.S. search lists begin to diverge in placement, but not a whole lot on topics. Overall, Google's global user base was fascinated with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Flappy Bird, ISIS, Frozen, and the Sochi Olympics. Conchita Wurst, the Austrian drag queen who won the Eurovision talent contest in May, was also a big search around the world.
Wurst and this year's Winter Olympics weren't top searches in the U.S., but Ferguson and the ongoing troubles in Ukraine were.
Things got a little more interesting when it came to tech.
The world was largely focused on smartphones in 2014. Seven of the top 10 spots were taken up by handset including the iPhone 6 (#1), Samsung Galaxy S5 (#2), Nexus 6 (#3), Moto G (#4), Galaxy Note 4 (#5), LG G3 (#6), and Nokia X (#7).
The U.S., on the other hand, was a little more interested in the Apple Watch (#4), Chromecast (#5), Xbox One (#6), and the Surface Pro 3 (#10). Smartphones were still a big chunk of top trending gadget searches in the U.S., however, occupying six spots.
The world was also interested in the Xbox One, which came in at number 7 on the global trending list. Sony's PlayStation 4, however, did not crack the top 10 on either the global or U.S. trending lists. Sony's console has led the sales contest between the two next-gen consoles, but the Xbox One recently won a small victory when it overtook the new PlayStation in terms of sales for the month of November.
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