September 21, 2008

Google Says Apple Owns the Letter "i", and Craigslist the "s"

Search engines work best when they have specific phrases to search for, or better yet, when they have parameters for when the Web page was posted. But if you get more abstract, going to single words or even letters, they typically don't know where to start in terms of finding what you want. Taking a look at Google's first answers for the letters of the Roman alphabet, it's interesting to see what the search index is guessing as the best answers. Google gives its own Gmail the letter "g", cedes Apple the letter "i", and Craigslist the "s", while kindly passing on the "Y" to Yahoo!, effectively dividing the alphabet as cleanly as the many nations who have laid claim to a slice of Antarctica.

For those not given to tech companies, the results weigh heavily with Wikipedia, as might be expected, with explanations of the letters, and periodic table elements. Also interesting, there are a pair of movies from IMDB that take the #1 spot, a pair of obscure scientific journals from the American Physical Society, and what looks like some great SEO by the Massachusetts Boston Transit Authority and Cirque du Soleil. The full list is below. All results were done with my own Google account signed out, so my Web history would not influence the rankings.

As of September 21, 2008:In addition to these results, Google offers up stock quotes for Ford (F) and Qwest (Q) atop the other search results, and provides scientific details like the speed of lightfor "c", "e" as a mathematical constant and Planck's constant for "h".

While Google's search engine is ubiquitous, by some measure around 90% of all searching, it's clearly still got an extreme bent toward academia and science. Apple's capturing the letter "i" is a great feat of marketing, as is Yahoo!'s "y", but should Craigslist get the "s" and Gmail the "g"? Those are more curious.