Another Slant on Google iPhone Searches

December 14th, 2017

The other day, the Night Owl posted a column suggesting that you can’t judge potential sales of a product on the basis of the number of searches recorded by Google. But it’s also true that high search volume certainly indicates that people are interested.

At least when the product is finally available.

So in 2016, speculation persisted about what Apple might deliver for a 10th anniversary iPhone, assuming such a thing would even happen. Even during the rumor run-up to the iPhone 7, some suggested you might as well not bother. Next year there would be something a whole lot better. It didn’t hurt that Apple decided to ditch the headphone jack, which kind of/sort of raised a ruckus for a while. But it doesn’t seem as if a significant number of potential sales were lost.

After all, didn’t Apple provide a free adaptor so you could plug your wired ear buds or headphones into the lightning port? Well, unless you wanted to listen and charge at the same time, in which case you needed a more expensive combo adapter with both the headphone jack and a lighting port for the charger.

But just now, I found one for $12.99 at Amazon, and assuming it is of good quality, that criticism doesn’t really pass muster unless you tire of dongles. But Apple’s end game is no doubt creating the climate for a wider array of affordable Bluetooth headphones, and not just the AirPods, which may or may not be affordable depending on your point of view.

But let’s get back to those searches.

For months on end, speculation continued about a 2017 iPhone that continued to be referred to as iPhone 8. It was assumed the regular upgrade to the iPhone 7 would be called iPhone 7s, and it would have strictly minor improvements. Until we came real close to September’s iPhone launch event, the product that became known as the iPhone X was still referred to strictly by its rumored name.

Are you with me so far?

Well, in that December 8th column, I cited a blog that claimed that iPhone X searches on Google weren’t especially high, thus indicating sales may not be all that great. Unfortunately, that flew in the face of estimates from real industry analysts that indicated great sales and clear evidence of improved availability.

If you visited to Apple’s online store as of December 13th to order an iPhone X, you’d be promised two-day delivery. That’s about as quick as anything you might order this holiday season. In addition, it appeared that most or all of the Apple Stores in and around the sprawling Phoenix metro area had at least some in stock. Unless you plan on competing your holiday shopping on Christmas Eve, it does not appear that you’ll have much trouble getting one.

Now comes some fascinating information that raises questions about that claim about subpar search requests for the iPhone X. Based on “what was trending in 2017” at Google, the iPhone 8 was second among total searches. The iPhone X occupied the third spot. First on the list was Hurricane Irma, and rounding out the list was Matt Lauer and Meghan Markle. Indeed among actors, Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”) only managed number three. I hardly think Markle rates; well except for the abiding interest in matters relating to the British royal family.

In any case, among consumer tech gear, the iPhone 8 was number one, followed by the iPhone X, Nintendo Switch, Samsung Galaxy S8, and the Xbox One X. The Pixel 2 Phone by Google didn’t make the top five.

Now why would the iPhone 8 rate higher than the iPhone X?

One key reason ought to be obvious. Under this past summer, the iPhone X was almost always referred to as the iPhone 8, meaning the search involved the very same product. While Google’s tables don’t quantify exact numbers, it’s safe to say that Apple is doing far better generating interest in its products than any other tech company.

Again, because people are searching for a retail gadget doesn’t necessarily correlate with final sales figures. It’s always possible that, once the information is consulted, they’ll look elsewhere. Interest in Apple products, however, appears to rate way ahead of any other tech gear, which is why two iPhones generated more interest than anything else other than a weather-related catastrophe.

It may be useful to look at the topics that didn’t rate so high in Google searches, but I’d rather not engage in political discussions in these columns.

In any case, with wide availability of the iPhone X in at least some countries, and industry analyst estimates of high sales, clearly Apple took the right approach in managing this product launch.

If I had less limited access to money, and was still in the business of replacing most of my gear every year or so, I might even consider one. The reality is otherwise, but obviously lots of others have no qualms about buying a more expensive product. Indeed, there are analyst estimates that Apple will sell well over 80 million iPhones, in total, this quarter, and that the 256GB iPhone X may actually be earning higher sales than its cheaper sibling.

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