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Apple iPhone Search Engine Traffic

Douglas A. McIntyre

Do the numbers of searches that a product receives have any relationship to eventual sales? There does not seem to be any scientific basis for the theory. Experian Marketing Services has elected to release the data about Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C anyway. People need to take it as it is -- a path to a guess:

•  Looking at online consumer behavior using Experian Marketing Services data, interest and speculation over the latest Apple product release started slowly in March as rumors of the next iPhone and iOS started. There was a further lift in search activity in June around the time of the iOS7 beta release as Apple developers and enthusiasts scrambled to gain access to the test platform.

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•  By August, search activity was really gaining momentum with the largest peak (an increase of 212% from the previous week) during the week ending September 14, 2013, coinciding with the launch event on September 10th.

•  Despite the long anticipation and demand for a cheaper iPhone, the $99 iPhone 5c failed to generate the level of search activity seen for the iPhone 5s. During the week ending September 14th, searches for iPhone 5s were 4 times more prevalent than searches for iPhone 5c.

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•  Searches for the currently theoretical iPhone 6 were also popular. In some cases people were looking to understand whether this release was for the iPhone 6 whereas others were looking for advice on whether to buy the 5c or 5s or hold out for the ‘6’. Searches for ‘iPhone fingerprint’, which is arguably the most innovative difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, were the most common feature-related search.

•  Surprising was the speed with which the gold iPhone 5s sold out because searches for ‘gold’ iPhones only accounted for less than 1 percent of searches. It is also interesting to note that searches comparing various iPhone models were twice as frequent as comparisons between iPhones and Androids, which speaks to the continued loyalty of Apple fans.

•  The top recipient of traffic from the iPhone release search terms was Apple.com and most of the traffic was the result of clicks on paid links. The Apple iPhone product page and Apple Store were other obvious recipients of the search traffic. Many of the other sites to receive this traffic were content heavy sites such as YouTube, Yahoo and CBSNews as people scoured the Internet for news, images and video of the new phones and the launch event.

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•  iPhone users saved their searches for iPhone accessories until the week after the launch. This is likely the result of a push by accessories manufacturers maximizing on the increased iPhone interest and relishing the fact that the specs of the new phone still align with their current inventory of cases. For those wanting to catch additional search traffic from Apple fans searching for cases, try incorporating ‘covers’ in to your keywords since many people search using this naming alternative. It seems that battery extending cases are gaining in demand as users become more “fidgetal” and reliant on their phones and the instance of “nomophobia” (fear of being out of mobile phone contact) becomes more common.

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