Who Owns the Alphabet?

November 2003

(These results are historical; see the most recent results.)

Surprisingly, given the recent controversy over changes to Google's search algorithm, only five categories have changed leader compared to 1 year ago. (Random sampling during the year, however, suggests that the lead in some of the other categories was not stable.) Four of them are near the middle of the alphabet - if you believe in horoscopes, perhaps you can interpret that fact for me. Anyway, see below for the lowdown, or view 2002's results.

Companies strive for brand-name recognition, and adopt common phrases ("Where do you want to go today?") and even single words ("True") as being representative of that company, and no other. However, sometimes a word or phrase can be used by two very different companies, perhaps in different product spaces, who then have to fight it out for mind-share.

This page takes that to its logical limit, and asks: in the space of human awareness, who has won the battle for the basic building blocks, the very letters that make up the words with which we express ourselves? Who does the Internet's collective consciousness associate most closely with each of our 26 alphabet atoms?

As with so many things, Google has the answer. Googling for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet produces the following results:

First Hit (2003) Description Comment Honourable Mentions (top 10) 2002 Winner
A YourDictionary.com Comprehensive index of online dictionaries with 800 dictionaries in more than 160 different languages. No sign of Adobe in the honourable mentions this year. Instead, Find A Grave creeps in at number 10. Apple, A List Apart, Find A Grave No change
B B'Tselem The Israeli Information Center for human rights in the Occupied Territories. The only political site in the set of 26 (I count W as a PR site :-). Belgian Railways (b-rail), Oral-B No change
C CNET.com Technology product reviews, news, jobs and downloads. CNET still dominates this category, with 5 of the top 10 links (down from 8 last year). C-SPAN.org No change
D D-Link Manufacturer of hubs, switches, NICs, Ethernet.   D-Lib Magazine, Banca d'Italia No change
E E Online Entertainment news, celebrity gossip, games and community.   eBay, E*TRADE, MSN Hotmail (e-mail) No change
F F-Secure Product information, news, support, and information on viruses. (Top 10) A (dis)honourable mention for over-use of the F word... F***edCompany.com, F.Scott Fitzgerald Centenary Home Page No change
G The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Dedicated to education and research about causes, treatment and the search for a cure. Breast cancer wins both G and Y; This is almost certainly down to the online pink ribbon campaign. G.Loomis (fishing gear), Zero G Software No change
H H-Net, Humanities & Social Sciences Online Interdisciplinary organization dedicated to developing the educational potential of the Internet. Tip for an up-and-coming .com - pick a name beginning with H. There's a market gap. National 4-H Council, [H]ard|OCP No change
I iWon Portal and search engine that gives away cash prizes daily, monthly, and yearly. iWon has knocked last year's winner, Disney, into second place. iVillage.com, Disney Online, Yahoo.com, I, Cringely Disney Online
J JCrew Assorted men's and women's clothing. JCrew slides into the top spot. triple j (an Australian youth radio station), J. Paul Getty Museum triple j
K The K Desktop Environment KDE is a powerful graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations. ...and it rocks. Kmart.com, K-Meleon No change
L Europa The European Union On-Line ...which, in French, is "L'Union européenne en ligne." L'Oreal , LEXPRESS.fr LEXPRESS.fr
M CORDIS: I*M Europe Portal Page I've read the whole page and can't figure out what they do. Last year's winner, 3M, is nowhere in sight. Algorithm change? M&M's, M-Systems 3M
N SBC Pacific Bell Knowledge Network Explorer A searchable database of outstanding Internet learning sites. The Nokia N-Gage, a recently released phone/games console, is a new contender. One to watch. *NSYNC, Nokia N-Gage, IN-N-OUT Burger No change
O O'Reilly and Associates Technical and computer book documentation for Linux and other Open Source software. A side effect of Google's algorithm using ' as a word separator. Drew's Script-O-Rama,O'Reilly Network No change
P Alfred P. Sloan Foundation A philanthropic nonprofit institution established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan, CEO of GM.   P. Diddy No change
Q Q4music.com Music news, commentary and reviews, with online music shopping.   B&Q No change
R The R Project for Statistical Computing R, also known as `GNU S', is a free system for statistical computation and graphics. (Top 10) It's ironic that a company whose symbol is an "i" should get an hon. ment. only for the (R) mark they use on it so consistently. Intel(R) Corporation, Toys R Us Inc. No change
S The GNU Project The founding organization of free software. Home of the GNU Public License. According to Google's highlighting, the GNU Project appear to own S based on the s in "GNU's Not Unix". Hoover's Online, Tom's Hardware Guide, McDonald's No change
T AT&T Home Page - Welcome! Provides long-distance, international and wireless services as well as Internet access. (Top 10) Blogger gets an honourable mention - T for Tons of Tiresome Twaddle, presumably ;-) BLOGGER, T-Online, T-Mobile, Ain't It Cool News No change
U The whatUseek Network A meta-search engine with directory from the ODP. I suppose this shows that misspelling your company name can pay off. U-Haul, uboat.net No change
V Bobby WorldWide HTML accessibility checker. Don't ask me. "Validation", perhaps? V-Day (anti-violence), Channel [V], V.90 Modem Standard No change
W Welcome to the White House Official site - features a virtual historical tour, and the history of the American presidents. We all know the reason why this site wins W - and it isn't "Welcome" or "White" :-) Form W-4, Michael W. Smith No change
X Netscape.com Portal, search engine, providers of the Netscape browser. Perhaps this is a commentary on the sort of things people search for on Netscape.com... THE X - FILES, Mac OS X, X.Org, XFree86 No change
Y Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization Support and information about breast cancer. Yahoo! Sports is number 5, but the main page is now nowhere to be seen this year. Foul play by Google? 92nd Street Y Yahoo!
Z HealthAtoZ.com Medical and healthcare resources for patients.  A dictionary at the beginning, and another at the end. How neat. ZNet, Dragon Ball Z No change

Note: much to the chagrin of those who try to manipulate the index, Google changes its search algorithm frequently, and so for this and other reasons, the results listed here may not be the same as those you get if you do the search for yourself. This page may be updated on an irregular basis, but I'm not promising anything.

Original URL: http://www.gerv.net/writings/who-owns-the-alphabet/2003-11.html