It’s that time of year again when Apple rumors start to surface online. Last fall it was widely (and incorrectly) speculated that the iPhone 5 would be released when instead the iPhone 4s was launched.
And now, the rumors are once again driving search activity. A year-over-year trend shows that “iPhone 5” searches were more popular than searches on “iPhone 4” between August and early October 2011, up until the iPhone 4s announcement when the latter term became more widely searched. Search variations around “iPhone 5” have been steadily increasing since the beginning of 2012 and peaked the week of August 18 when searches grew 128% from the previous week as speculation around the next generation iPhone reached a fever pitch.
In the week leading up to the most recent “iPhone 5” search peak, some new search terms emerged including “leaked iPhone 5” which primarily sent traffic to the MSNBC Technology Blog as a result of the site posting photos of the alleged new device. Other popular search term variations were around the release date, including searches on when wireless carrier Sprint will sell the next generation iPhone, along with queries around features and specs, rumors and price.
Among the top websites receiving traffic from “iPhone 5” searches the week ending August 18 were Yahoo! News and Yahoo!, both of which experienced significant increases in search clicks from these terms week over week (+162% and 772%, respectively). iPhone5Release.org, a site devoted exclusively to news on the next generation device, was among the top five sites receiving traffic from “iPhone 5” terms and also experienced a large increase in search clicks over the past week (+402%). The top iPhone-related term sending traffic to the site last week was “iPhone 5” while “leaked iPhone 5” and “iPhone 5 in production” emerged as new terms sending traffic to the site. Only one retailer, Walmart.com, was among the top ten sites receiving traffic from “iPhone 5” terms last week; the site experienced a 222% increase in search clicks versus the previous week and 88% of the clicks to the site were from paid search.
It’s rumored that Apple will announce the new iPhone on September 12, when a smaller version of the iPad may also be revealed. Searches on the “iPad mini” increased dramatically the week of April 21, 2012 when a Chinese website reported on an expected third quarter release of the mini Apple tablet. Searches for “iPad mini” were on the rise again in early July as numerous websites reported information on Apple’s strategy around the device. Walmart was the top recipient of traffic from “iPad mini” searches in the 12 weeks ending August 18th, receiving nearly 10% of downstream search clicks. Walmart’s relatively high share of paid traffic (79%) from iPad mini terms further indicates the retailer is looking to capitalize on the upcoming Apple product launches.
New rumors are popping up daily, and seem to be fueling the growth of Apple’s stock price, as pent up consumer demand is expected to drive significant sales volume if and when the new iPhone and iPad are released. Stay tuned for updates on how consumers react to the Apple announcements on September 12th to see how they drive online consumer behavior.