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Add Google Trends to your kit bag

One of the pieces of commentary on the iPhone 3G launch has been around Apple’s seemingly limitless ability to generate press coverage. So, how effective are they? Yesterday Google released a new version of Google Trends, the tool for measuring search engine and news references for specific terms. Google Trends has high potential as a tool in the PR kit bag.

This graph shows references to iPhone beginning in late 2006, along with the specific news events that drove those references. Notice the steady climb in search volume over time, despite the fact that news references have been pretty constant.

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When plotted against BlackBerry as a search term, it’s easy to see how iPhone dominates both the news coverage and the search engine interest. One can see how, despite steady growth in interest in Blackberry, iPhone emerged as the dominant search term by late 2007.

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Google Trends also provides the ability for you to drill down into specific geographies, cities and languages, which tells a slightly different story. Here you can see that iPhone is very strong outside the US, but in a head to head battle with BlackBerry in the US. This suggests that Apple’s choice to quickly deliver on 70 carriers this year is a very smart move indeed.

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My assessment? Google trends can be a useful tool for getting a quick proxy on consumer sentiment and news coverage. However, it can also be incredibly misleading if search terms aren’t chosen with care. For example, I plotted this chart showing iPhone vs Blackberry vs Nokia, which shows Nokia absolutely dominating search engine volume. But Nokia makes such a vast array of products and the search term is so general that it’s impossible to derive a meaningful comparison with this tool.

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