Numbers intrigue me a lot. For instance, did you know, more Danes have searched for Paris Hilton, than anywhere in the world in the last 30 days(including the Americas). And did you also know, Obama has a huge fan following in Kenya.
There was a time when collecting statistics such as ..these would have taken months and even years. But now, by just observing user browsing and searching patterns, a lot of really interesting and sometimes useful information can be collected in no time at all.
We discussed Twist, few months back which analyzes Twitter posts. But, then how many people really use twitter? What is it that almost the entire world uses, more frequently than anything else? This might help you.
If you answered "Google", you are almost right. Though lately, there has been a huge shift towards social networking - Facebook and Myspace and stuff. But, one has to admit, Google knows more about people, than anyone else.
Google seems to have spun off "trends" as "Insights for Search". Insights analyzes user search behavior over the last 4 years across regions, cities and time lines. A statutory warning here: It's really quite addictive.
For instance, as a Linux enthusiast based in Singapore, I was disheartened by the fact that the awareness and interest for Linux has been falling continuously over the last 4 years. With this statistics, I know we've got to pull up our socks and try harder.
Another example could be, as a Microsoft X360 sales guy in Singapore, this following consumer trend is a warning bell to cut prices, increase awareness and throw in more promotions.
I could go on and on, but Google Insights is an amazing tool. It doesn't guarantee accuracy but paints a really interesting picture of what's buzzing the tubes. I only wish there was a way to filter positives from the negative "insights". Some things top the list for all the wrong reasons. But yeah, in future, context based searching will hopefully resolve this issue. Better not to discuss Cuil here :)
Insights showcases the amount of information Google collects. It also reinstates the reason why they are the biggest targeted online advertising agency. And it also reaffirms my faith in Google, that if there is anything to be searched online, Google will find it for here. God speed my friend and keep the numbers flowing :)