Now in 2013, we can see the consequences of Asia moving onto a unified mobile Internet. Asian technology is being exported across Asia: made-in-Japan Line appears on most-searched lists in Taiwan and Indonesia; made-in-China WeChat appeared in Malaysia. The Japanese games Puzzle & Dragons and Chain Chronicle spiked in popularity in Hong Kong. 360 camera, a Chinese made app, spiked in the Philippines. The Korean-made Modoo Marble was a hit in Indonesia. Asia is using the Internet to import and export Asian technology like never before.

2: From disasters to data
From earthquakes to typhoons, Asia has more people affected by natural disasters than any other region. This was a particularly hard year in terms of natural disasters, but the data reveals that for more people than ever before, the first resource they reach for is the Internet. Typhoon Haiyan generated five times the search traffic in the Philippines than Bopha did just a year before. Hong Kong braced for Usagi.  Bird flu flare-ups led to spikes for H7N9 searches in Hong Kong. Singaporeans searched for air quality data as a haze from burning forests smothered the island.

Searches for typhoon in 2013

3: Serious politics
North Korea was the only Asian country to make it to the global trending list, but politics within Asia has become an Internet phenomenon as much as chat apps. The elections in Malaysia, Japan and the Philippines all demonstrate that. While Internet penetration hasn’t changed much in Japan, Shinzo Abe generated about 30% more searches in this year’s election than he did when he first became prime minister in 2006. Of course, this was the first year that Japan loosened restrictions on how politicians could use social media to campaign. Malaysia also saw its first electoral debate broadcast online for the first time—Singaporeans were also very interested in the neighbor’s election results. Meanwhile, connected Filipino voters took to the Internet to check for candidate and polling station information.  

Japan's September top trends, as shown on our Search Trends Globe

4. Pop culture: Gwiyomi and Attack on Titan
Following Gangnam Style’s global success last year, the genre of K-Pop as a whole continued its momentum across the region. Gwiyomi, the Korean song featuring cutesy hand-gestures, became a viral video meme as everyone from Thai actresses to Chinese pop stars uploaded their own versions online. The phenomenon spiked in Singapore and Malaysia. Meanwhile, Japanese anime series “Attack on Titan” was such a hit on TV across Asia that globally it trends higher than “Mad Men” or “Homeland” combined. Also from Japan, hit TV show “Hanzawa Naoki”, the tale of a charismatic banker exacting revenge on his duplicitous superiors, captivated audiences in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

"Attack on Titan" compared to searches for U.S. series around the world

For the Asian lists themselves, read on!

And as you can see the search intensity in Hong Kong far exceeded what it saw in the U.S., even if it couldn’t maintain that intensity for long.

The other spike shows how Asia’s app economy can bridge apparently dissimilar Internet markets. Searches for insta-caricature app Moman Camera spiked last week in Indonesia — which apparently has been hunting for information about the app. As you can see from this map, it’s the first market outside of China to search for it in any significant way.

The searches for the Chinese name of the app suggest that Chinese-speaking users in Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia, adopted it before users in Indonesia picked up on the app and started searching for it.

So while the mobile Internet might look very different in China and Indonesia in terms of devices and penetration, the two markets apparently unite in their love of turning friends’ faces into silly cartoons.

Posted by Robin Moroney, Communications Manager, Google Asia Pacific