Of all the things that people searched for on Google in 2014, one term that made the top 10 list was an addictive, maddening mobile app that was eventually rejected by its own creator: Flappy Bird. Developed by a young Vietnamese man named Dong Nguyen, Flappy Bird generated far more searches than the quarter-billion-dollar blockbuster Destiny, the math-based tile game 2048 or the multi-player shooter Titanfall.
As Google noted upon releasing its list of trending searches for 2014, Flappy Bird's popularity "surged in February when the developer took the game offline due to feeling guilty over its addictive nature." The game's withdrawal only generated many more clones, including Flappy Nyan Cat, Flippy Chicken, Flappy Crocodile, Flappy Bee and Flappy You, which let players fly an image of their own face through a series of obstacles.
In Google searches for consumer electronics, it's little surprise that the top term this year was iPhone 6. Hitting the market in many parts of the globe on Sept. 19, Apple's new iPhone 6 -- along with the even larger-screened iPhone 6 Plus -- quickly broke the company's previous sales records, with more than 10 million sold in the first three days alone.
Good, Bad Apples
Apple, in fact, owned three of Google's top consumer electronics search terms in 2014. Globally, the top 10 terms in that category this year were: 1) iPhone 6, 2) Samsung Galaxy S5, 3) Nexus 6, 4) Moto G, 5) Samsung Note 4, 6) LG G3, 7) Xbox One, 8) Apple Watch, 9) Nokia X and 10) iPad Air.
Due to a bizarre, albeit rare, incident dubbed "Bendgate" -- prompted by a handful of reports from new iPhone 6 Plus owners that their devices had literally been bent out of shape -- Apple also made Google's top 10 YouTube video search list, coming in fifth place with the term "iPhone 6 Plus Bend Test."
Google's top 10 list of Google Doodles for the year included a different kind of technology milestone. Coming in at No. 4 was the Philae robotic lander, which the European Space Agency successfully landed on a comet -- a first -- in November.
The Rise of Mobile, Wearable, Quantum
In general, mobile technology made a strong showing on Google searches in 2014. Five of the top 100 global trends involved cellphones, Google said, with "Apple, Samsung and Nexus leading the way. This year also saw increased searches for wearable technology and lightweight HD cameras, as well as the emergence of remote-controlled consumer drones."
The growing number of wearables hitting the market this year contributed to a three-fold rise in searches for "wearable tech," according to Google. And cutting-edge developments on the forefront of computing -- in particular, the advances being made in using quantum bits and chips instead of silicon for high-speed calculations -- led to a "buzz of activity" for the term "quantum computer."
Other tech-related Google search terms that trended upward in the U.S. over the past 12 months include "Alibaba IPO," "GoPro IPO," "Flappy Bird memes" (number nine in the top 10 memes) and "What is...?" questions for Bitcoin (fourth place among "What is...?" questions, Gamergate (sixth place), WhatsApp (seventh place) and -- Apple showing up once again -- AirDrop (10th place).
Upon announcing its top search terms for 2014, Google has also rolled out several updates to its Google Trends site. Aimed at making Trends "simpler, cleaner, and more colorful," the changes include an updated navigation menu, new typography and space, and a new design for Top Charts.
Image credit: Google; Artist's concept.