Google (GOOG) knows what you—collectively—obsessed over in 2013. Well, it knows with the exception of people in mainland China, where the search engine remains blocked, and in North Korea, where only a handful of the elite has Internet access at all. According to Google’s recently released annual Zeitgeist report, here are some of the year’s pan-Asian search highlights:
• Strong signs of technology-search convergence. In 2010, searches in many Asian countries focused on software and hardware made within that country, such as Japan-based searches related to Japanese social network Mixi (2121:JP). By 2013, searches tended to be much more convergent. People in every country were searching for information about the Samsung (005930:KS) Galaxy S4, the iPhone 5s (AAPL), and the China-based WeChat (700:HK) social network.
• Natural disasters prompted many searches. And 2013 was a tough year for Asia, from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to worries about H7N9 avian flu in mainland China and Hong Kong.
• Asian voters increasingly seek information about elections and national politics online. Asian politicians are becoming savvier about online outreach, from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaigning on social media to Malaysia’s decision to stream live video of election debates online for the first time.
• North Korea is trending. People inside North Korea can’t use Google, but the rest of the world uses Google to try to figure out what’s going on inside the Hermit Kingdom.
• Korea and Japan rule Asia’s pop culture. A year after Psy’s Gangnam Style went viral globally, searches for Korean pop anthems held strong in Asia. Also popular: Attack on Titan, a Japanese anime series.