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This post is part of our series that looks at the tech gadgetry and geeky moments that went truly viral in Asia in 2014. Check out google.com/2014 for lists of the most popular searches around the world. Enjoy!

No, it’s not a smartwatch, exactly. But in Japan, even kids’ toys are entering the realm of wearables. This year was all about the Yo-kai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ), a hugely popular video game and animation that is a runaway hit with Japanese kids. The way Yokai Watch works is that kids have to get a watch and collect the little fictional monsters with their watches. It’s like Pokemon, but instead of battling it out with collectible cards, you have a much niftier piece of hardware.

Yokai Watch’s search popularity in Japan even beat that of Disney’s Frozen. Is Frozen’s moment in the land of the rising sun melting away?

Yokai Watch (red line) enjoys a sustained high volume of searches; Pokemon (blue line) had a quiet year but suddenly spiked in popularity; Frozen (yellow line)’s search popularity is declining slowly.

Posted by Sakura Tominaga, Communications Manager, Google Japan

Posted:
This post is part of our series that looks at the tech gadgetry and geeky moments that went truly viral in Asia in 2014. Check out google.com/2014 for lists of the most popular searches around the world. Enjoy!

Just how much do Indonesians love to chat? A lot. On average, Indonesians have at least 3 chat apps installed on their smartphones—25% of Indonesian smartphone users have more than 5. In fact, Indonesians searched for and downloaded so many chat apps that we have a whole list of the most searched-for chat apps in Indonesia.

Top gadgets in Indonesia
  1. iPhone 6
  2. Nokia X
  3. Samsung Galaxy Core
  4. ASUS Zenfone 5
  5. Samsung Galaxy S5
  6. Samsung Galaxy V
  7. Samsung Galaxy S4
  8. iPhone 5S
  9. Blackberry Z3
  10. Samsung Galaxy Grand
Top chat apps in Indonesia
  1. BBM
  2. WhatsApp
  3. Line
  4. WeChat
  5. Skype
  6. Yahoo Messenger
  7. Facebook Messenger
  8. Kakao Talk
  9. BeeTalk
  10. Kik Messenger
What’s notable is the fact that while Blackberry used to be king in Indonesia, searches for Blackberry’s latest device comes in 9th place, while various Samsung models take up five spots out of the top ten. However, it seems like everyone is still tied to Blackberry Messenger, as BBM reigned as the most searched-for chat app of 2014. In fact, BBM was searched for twice as much as WhatsApp, its nearest rival. What’s clear though is that no matter the device they’re on, Indonesians are certainly agnostic about which app they use to communicate with each other.


Google search trends capture just how competitive Asia is for homegrown messaging apps, whose popularity completely eclipses those that are popular in the West. For instance, note that for all of Indonesia’s obsession with chat apps, the one that didn’t make it big in Indonesia was one that exploded in popularity in the West this year: Snapchat.

As this chart shows, although Snapchat got more search interest globally than WeChat, it’s striking how little the two chat apps overlap in their spheres of influence.
Snapchat and WeChat: never the twain shall meet?

The interest in Line in Indonesia also heralds how Asia’s mobile Internet is becoming truly pan-Asian. Five years ago, Japan’s mobile Internet was dominated by flip NEC phones. Indonesia’s was dominated by Blackberrys. Korea had only just been given the regulatory approval to bring in the iPhone. Now Line, an app developed in Japan by a Korea-owned company, is rivaling Skype and Facebook Messenger in Indonesia for domination. Seen in that light, Indonesia’s love of chat apps looks less like a national obsession, and more like a regional leading indicator.

Posted by Jason Tedjasukmana, Communications Manager, Google Indonesia

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This post is part of our series that looks at the tech gadgetry and geeky moments that went truly viral in Asia in 2014. Check out google.com/2014 for lists of the most popular searches around the world. Enjoy!

It was a big year for Chinese handset maker Xiaomi, as searches for their devicesthe Redmi, Xiaomi 3, and phablet Redmi Noteall spilled over to various parts of Asia, especially in nearby Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia. In Taiwan and Malaysia, searches for Xiaomi trended just behind searches for iPhone 6.
Searches for Xiaomi were most concentrated in Greater China and nearby Asian countries

2014 was also the year that the phablet hit the mainstream. We had noticed how Asians were touting 5” beasts way back in 2011 (the Samsung Note anyone?), and people in the West were laughing at the sheer size of them. Now, phablets have gotten the ultimate stamp of smartphone approval as Apple wholeheartedly embraced the larger screen size with their flagship phones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus.

We have some theories as to why the phablet first emerged in Asia: some believe that phablets took off here because the larger surface area made writing Asian-language characters with a finger or a stylus easier. For hyperconnected countries like Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, where commuters on the train can stay connected to fast Internet during their entire ride, they can stream video content via YouTube or other video players onto their phones. (Already, the bulk of YouTube views from Japan and Korea come from mobile.) Of course they’d want a bigger screen size to catch up on their favorite Korean dramas. Eventually, the rest of the world caught on to the glories of the huge phablet screen.
As this chart from Flurry Analytics shows, Koreans were way ahead of the curve, with more bigger size smartphones in that market than in the rest of the world. 
Everyone else eventually caught up, as the share of Phablets (5 - 6.9” screen) phones grew dramatically over the course of a year.

Faithful readers: do you think phablets are fab, or do you think they’re clunky monsters? Does the larger form factor cramp or expand your style? Share your thoughts with us below.

Posted by Joyce Hau, Communications Senior Associate, Google Asia Pacific

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This post is part of our series that looks at the tech gadgetry and geeky moments that went truly viral in Asia in 2014. Check out google.com/2014 for lists of the most popular searches around the world. Enjoy!

Flappy Bird, the frustratingly addictive mobile game, is the pride of Vietnam, and this year’s most viral gaming app. Flappy Bird is not only hugely popular in Asia, this app even made the Google’s top 10 global trending searches list—above Disney’s Frozen. Made in a weekend by creator Dong Nguyen, the adorably low-tech Flappy Bird was the highest spiking game of 2014, above Destiny, a multi-million dollar game. In addition to being a global phenomenon, Flappy Bird spiked in searches in Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Flappy Bird, the innocuously addictive game out of Vietnam

Just how big are gaming apps in Asia? According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, more Asians play games on their phones than anywhere else: In Thailand, 65% of smartphone owners play games on their mobiles, and in China that number is 64% — compared to very serious Germany where only one in five smartphone owners play games on their mobiles.

Most Asians use their smartphones for gaming. Germans? Nein.

When you’re talking about a clear majority of very populous countries all playing games on their smartphones, that’s literally hundreds of millions of people glued to games. Is it any wonder then, that in this brave new world of mobile games, a humble game featuring a hapless bird made by one Vietnamese developer could become a viral hit? Watch this space for more global hits made by Asian developers.

Posted by Amy Kunrojpanya, Head of Communications & Public Affairs, New Emerging Markets

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As we look back at this year’s hottest trends, we give you the tech gadgetry and geeky moments that went truly viral in Asia. Check out google.com/2014 for lists of the most popular searches around the world. Enjoy!

The selfie stick

A spectre is haunting Asia—the spectre of the selfie stick. A phenomenon that first peaked in Malaysia, then jumped the straits to Indonesia, the skinny banner has been raised in the Philippines more times than in any other country. This humble stick has caused such a stir that even the South Korean government has apparently banned its sale—what could be the cause of such alarm?
The Philippines: the Himalayas of the selfie stick emergence. The US is just crawling out from the Mariana trenches of selfie stick searches.

In any case, if 2013 was the year of the selfie, 2014 was the year of the selfie stick (well, here in Asia, at least). As you can see from the chart above, people in Malaysia first started searching for selfie sticks on Google early this year, then by the summer Filipinos were all wielding the contraption, just as searches gained in popularity in Indonesia.

Speculations are rife as to why the selfie stick originated in Asia, and various countries contend for the title of selfie stick originator. We do know, however, that front-facing cameras were a fixture on Asian feature phones, long before smartphones even emerged. In the early days of flip phones in Japan, circa mid-2000s, Japanese carriers even promoted a whole campaign around “jidori” 自撮り or selfies, and encouraged people to email photos of themselves to their friends over WAP (remember that?!).

Whether you call it a monopod, 自拍神棍 (“selfie magic stick” in Chinese), or tongkat narsis (“narcissistic stick” in Indonesian), this phenomenon is truly on the rise in Asia—watch out, other regions, before it jumps the pond to a selfie-taker near you. And remember: you saw it here in Asia first.

Posted by Robin Moroney, Communications Manager, Google Asia Pacific


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After three years of having a local presence here, we’re excited to open the doors to our new home in Bangkok. So excited, in fact, we’ve decided to share a few photos.

Our new home  located in Thailand’s first green LEED building  has all the features you’d expect of a Googley office, with a touch of Thailand. From a colourful tuk tuk in our reception, some of Bangkok’s Chinatown street art in our cafe, to a multi-walled mural chock full of scenes from across this beautiful country.


Since launching google.co.th in October 2004, we’ve worked hard to improve the Thai language search experience, from text to knowledge cards and even Voice Search. Whether it’s bringing Google Maps, Voice Search or YouTube to Thailand, expanding our presence here will help us provide our local users with more features that are relevant and useful to their daily lives.

Enjoy the photos!

Posted by Ariya Banomyong, Country Head, Google Thailand

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Whether you're teaching yourself a new language or trying to make a new friend, Google Translate can be a powerful tool for crossing language barriers. Today, we're adding 10 languages to Translate, including four new Asian languages, bringing our total number of supported languages to 90.
Google Translate helps you say thank you in Myanmar (Burmese)

In India and Southeast Asia, we are adding Malayalam, Myanmar, Sinhala, and Sundanese:

  • Malayalam (മലയാളം), with 38 million native speakers, is one of India’s 6 classical languages. It’s also been one of the most-requested languages by our users, so we are especially excited to add Malayalam support!
  • Myanmar (Burmese, မြန်မာစာ), spoken by 33 million native speakers, has been in the works for a long time. It's a challenging language for automatic translation, from both a language structure and a font encoding perspective. This is why we encourage the use of open standard fonts and therefore only output Myanmar translations in Unicode.
  • Sinhala (සිංහල) is one of Sri Lanka’s official languages and natively spoken by 16 million people. In September the Google Translate Community in Sri Lanka organized Sinhala Translate Week. Since then, participants have contributed tens of thousands of translations to our system.
  • Sundanese (Basa Sunda) is spoken by 39 million people living on the island of Java in Indonesia. While Sundanese does have its own script, it is today commonly written using the Latin alphabet.

In addition to these languages, we are adding several African languages, including Chichewa, Malagasy, and Sesotho; and Kazakh, Tajik, and Uzbek from Central Asia.

We’re just getting started with these new languages and have a long way to go. If it weren't for the active participation of the Translate Community, we wouldn't be able to launch some of these languages today. While our translation system learns from translated data found on the web, sometimes we need support from humans to improve our algorithms. We're grateful for all the support we're getting and hope that together with our community, we can continue improving translation quality for the languages we support today and add even more languages in the future.

You can help us by suggesting your corrections using the "Improve this translation" functionality on Translate and contributing to Translate Community.

Posted by Svetlana Kelman, Program Manager, Google Translate