Study Says More People Are Now Searching for the Newest iPhone Than About COVID-19

Even in countries where the virus hits the hardest, interests for iPhone SE 2020 are still rising and even overtaking interests in crucial Covid-19 information.

The bestselling iPhone model of all time is, reportedly, the iPhone 6 and its slightly bigger model, the iPhone 6+. Just three months after it was released in November 2014, it had already sold an incredible 71.5 million units, according to Investopedia. At the time, it had already sold 30 percent more than its predecessor, the iPhone 5S. 

By June 2017, an estimated 222.4 million units of the model had been sold. For comparison, its successor, the iPhone 7 and 7+ reportedly sold “just” 78.3 million units.

Today, Apple has considerably more competition and so sales for its signature mobile device have not quite reached the heights that it used to. Still, these numbers give us an idea of the immense popularity of the iPhone.

This popularity is backed by a recent study of the iPrice Group.

The ecommerce aggregator analyzed search data on Google in 17 different countries and regions, including 7 countries with the most cases of Covid-19 plus several potential big markets for the iPhone SE such as the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil, and India.

The study revealed a clear trend: for all countries surveyed, worries and curiosity about coronavirus started to drop significantly by April, around the same time rumors about Apple’s new smartphone began to surface. 


In late April, when the phone started shipping to consumers, searches worldwide for keywords such as “coronavirus,” “COVID,” and “COVID-19,” started to go down by as much as 46 prcent compared to its peak.

In the Philippines, specifically, searches for coronavirus keywords decreased by 59 percent, while searches for the iPhone SE surged up to 178 percent within two days of Apple’s announcement. The iPrice Group says this is a clear indication that the unusually affordable iPhone has a potential market in the country.

The same trend could also be observed even in countries with the highest numbers of active cases. In the US, Italy, and the UK, the proportions of searches for coronavirus keywords have decreased by 76 percent, 43 percent, and 47 percent respectively, and are still dropping.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that, after over two months of living in fear and isolation, consumers have decided to move on and look for things to distract themselves. Consumer electronics has turned out to be a popular choice. Just consider the explosive sales of the Nintendo Switch.

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According to iPrice, it’s not a coincidence that searches for the iPhone started going up just as searches for COVID-19 were going down. In fact, for Apple’s products in particular, iPrice’s research shows the precise point when people stopped searching for COVID-19 and started searching for the iPhone SE instead. 

Within 30 days of April, the proportion of searches for iPhone keywords worldwide went up by 17 percent.

The trend is most obvious in developing countries, including the Philippines, which are presumably the most excited about the iPhone SE’s relatively lower price range.

Immediately after the new phone was announced, interests for iPhone keywords shot up by 89 percent on average in the seven developing countries observed. Within only two days of the announcement, other developing countries like India, Thailand, and Malaysia saw the proportion of searches for iPhone increase by 133 percent, 103 percent, and 104 percent respectively.

And as if that’s not enough, by May, more people are now officially searching for Apple’s latest offer than information on coronavirus in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey, and Hong Kong.

It’s perhaps more evidence that people are generally over the virus and are more than ready to find a semblance of normalcy in their everyday lives.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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