Google just launched a new specialty service named Google Trends which can "see what the world is searching for", as its slogan says. I have curiously tried it with some keywords which are well-known in China and surprisingly found some interesting facts. Several examples are as follows:
1. "Lenovo", the global name of China's number-one IT company and former IBM PC division, has been increasingly focused on by people world-wide since the Lenovo-IBM marriage unveiled in early December 2004, but most of the people who are extremely interested in Lenovo are the non-Chinese, most of whom are the Vietnamese! The rest of the non-Chinese people mainly speak Japanese, Thai, English and other European languages.
2. The non-Chinese people who are interested in Lenovo are mostly in Asia, specifically in Vietnam and India, then Singapore and Hong Kong. The only non-Asian country in the top-10 list is Canada where a huge number of Chinese immigrants live. This might denote that Lenovo still need to do more to become an international player. By the way, it was reported that "Lenovo has set an initial target of becoming the fourth-largest mobile handset provider in Vietnam by 2006", so the Google's result seems to support the Lenovo's practice in Vietnam.
3. Particularly, the major cities where the above-mentioned people live are, in order, Delhi, Bangalore, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Chennai. Most of the cities are in India. It's strange that there is NO Vietnamese city listed!
4. Lenovo was rarely/infrequently mentioned in news references before/after it announced the IBM division acquisition. In contrast, "ThinkPad", the IBM formerly owned brand, was mentioned more frequently than "Lenovo", either before or after the acquisition case. Especially, it was highly referred to at several key time-points regarding Lenovo and its IBM division acquisition. It demonstrates that, at least currently, "ThinkPad" is still more popular and valuable than "Lenovo" in the global market.
5. ThinkPad has been focused on for years and the Lenovo-IBM events did not obviously affect its Google search volume, neither going up nor down. If you compare the search volume on "ThinkPad" at the beginning of 2004 and today, you may see the rate has fallen down a bit. However, the search volumes for "Lenovo" and "ThinkPad" are currently still at different levels in the comparison chart.
6. ThinkPad is more popular in Asia, Europe and North America, particularly hot in the cities such as Chiyoda, Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, San Francisco, Boston and New York in U.S, and Stuttgart and Berlin in Germany. Most people who are interested in ThinkPad speak Japanese, then Danish and German. English is unbelievably listed as the fourth language, though all the ThinkPad related documents I ever read were completely in English! China and its cities are not listed in the top-10 regions and cities, though the Chinese people are the 7th largest group which was interested in searching ThinkPad related web pages.
7. The Chinese names of Lenovo, "联想" in Simplified Chinese and "聯想" in Traditional Chinese, (literally, "Legend" in Chinese), are apparently mainly searched by Chinese speakers in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It is a bit unusual that most people in mainland China who were interested in Lenovo were NOT located in the major cities in China such as Beijing (where Lenovo is headquartered), Shanghai and Guangzhou.
8. On the contrary, Inspur or 浪潮 in Chinese, another major PC server manufacturer and software vendor in China, is mostly focused on by the people in Jinan, where Inspur is headquartered. This Jinan based company just switched its global name from "Langchao" to "Inspur" last month, so the word "Inspur" currently does "not have enough search volume to show graphs", as Google Trends prompted.
Moreover, a trend overview of all the above-mentioned keywords is also available. This kind of chart allows you directly and visually see the differences in popularity of various keywords/brands and their related news events. Another example is the brand comparison of "Dell, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft and ThinkPad" (see the right figure).
Furthermore, Google Trends' result sometimes may confuse people. For example, you may possibly have noticed that the comparing up trends of "Lenovo, ThinkPad" and "ThinkPad, Lenovo" are different in Cities, Regions and Languages statistics. This looks like a bug. Anyway, to get the correct statistics one should type in a single keyword such as "Lenovo", "ThinkPad", "联想" and "浪潮".
In addition, Google Trends presently does not support automatic conversion between simplified and traditional Chinese which is well supported by Google Search, so one keyword in Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese will have to be considered as two individual keywords, correspondingly, the results will be different.
However, Google Trends is really a nice service. Its content is informative, its page style is neat, and its functionality is essential, these indeed exactly meet their promoted Philosophy and Principles.
Thank you, Google! :-)