The auto-complete feature of Google’s search engine can be used to conduct a kind of virtual insta-sociology: Type “Why is Portland so” or why “Why is California so,” and the suggestions for completing your query offer one view of the “collective wisdom of the Internet” about a city or state. That’s because auto-complete suggestions don’t come from Google, but rather from Google users: They’re based on what others have searched for. (Past experiments found the top suggestion for how to finish the Portland query is “weird;” for California it’s “liberal.”)
The findings tend to skew negative, of course, because the formulation "Why is [X] so..." tends to begin a complaint rather than a compliment. Still, the results do reveal the very real associations that many searchers hold with various technology companies.
So what happens when you use this technique to find out what the Internet thinks of top tech brands? Here’s the answer — all the auto-complete suggestions for a dozen familiar technology names.
We may as well start with Google. Lots of good news for the brand here: “awesome,” “successful,” “popular,” “smart” — and, in a rarity for these results, “fast.” On the other hand: “racist.” That one is less of a rarity.
Probably not a great sign that “greedy” shows up twice. But at least “bad” is a more popular search than “terrible”?
No shock to see “secretive” prominent here, but I am a little surprised at how negative these queries skew. Maybe Apple’s fans don’t have any questions.
“Slow” is a popular term with practically every tech brand, but Facebook stands out with five slow-related queries.
Hey, that’s us! The thing to parse here is the politics: Is Yahoo “so liberal,” as the second-highest query suggests? Or is that balanced out by the inclusion of both “conservative” and “right wing”?
Have you noticed a pattern? So far, every single brand searched has included “so gay” among the query suggestions, and this is the third time “racist” has come up. Who knew the Internet ascribed such characteristics to technology? Anyway, a less mystifying but troubling result here is “easy to hack.”
Looking good for the Galaxy line. Not so go good for Samsung’s Kies software.
“Strong” and “popular” are not the first words I would have guessed here — but maybe that makes the question of why the company’s “stock so low” even more compelling?
Is it “cheap”? “Expensive”? Or “so much cheaper”? The Internet isn’t sure.
This one surprised me, but I guess the Internet is having trouble hearing Netflix.
That top result has got to hurt. One thing you can’t tell from these results is the tone of the query: Are searchers wondering why Nintendo is “successful” and “popular” because they are genuinely curious? Or because they find the idea unfathomable?
Whatever subset of the Internet is curious about Blackberry actually asks the most intriguing questions. Is Blackberry, in fact, “so secure”? And “so popular in South Africa”? These may be the only auto-complete suggestions that are both answerable and potentially interesting! Good job, Blackberry questioners.
As for the rest of you, I think we can safely say the Internet is a very impatient place: In the auto-complete suggestions for these 12 searches, the word “slow” comes up 22 times. So you can guess what the Internet wants to know about the Internet: