Natural disasters -- the Japan earthquake and Hurricane Irene -- have spurred the most online news searches in 2011, though big news and rumours about Apple weren't far behind.
Ask.com, which specialises in answering online questions, has issued its annual lists of most-searched-on terms and questions for the year by its 60 million users, broken down into categories such as news, celebrities and politics.
The top trending question among celebrity searches -- "Was Kim Kardashian's wedding fake?" -- edged out "Is Justin Bieber going to be a dad?" and "Are Lady Gaga's face implants real?" Users wanted to know if President Obama would get elected and had questions about contender Mitt Romney's religion. The Royal Wedding, Osama bin Laden's death and Occupy Wall Street's birth also captured huge interest.
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Technology stories didn't rate very high in news, aside from those involving Apple. Searchers were curious about Steve Jobs's worth, presumably following his death in October, and Apple fanboys and fangirls were insatiable when it came to finding out when the elusive iPhone 5 might debut (We've been rounding up iPhone 5 rumors for months and regret to say we still have no real answers ...). As it turns out, Apple enthusiasts get to keep asking questions about iPhone 5 since Apple just came out with the iPhone 4S instead.
AOL, which also issued its lists of top searches, found not surprisingly that Apple dominated searches about gadgets, with Apple iPhone and Apple iPad topping the chart. "Is the iPhone 3GS free?" and "Is Facebook going to charge?" also weighed on people's minds.
Ask.com also peeked into its crystal ball for 2012, based on the sort of questions its users were asking this year, to make some predictions. The search company says to expect oodles of Dr. Oz, George Clooney (who is rumored to be a contender to play Steve Jobs in the movies) and Nicki Minaj questions to be asked, and to be on the lookout for a blockbuster IPO from Facebook.
Sorry, Tim Cook, Ask.com doesn't appear to think people are too obsessed with you yet even though you're Apple's new CEO. No big predictions about you.
Here are a few of Ask.com's lists for 2011:
Top celebrity search terms and questions include: 1. Kim Kardashian: Was Kim Kardashian's wedding fake? 2. Justin Bieber: Is Justin Bieber going to be a dad?3. Lady Gaga: Are Lady Gaga's face implants real? 4. Beyonce: Did Beyonce fake a baby bump? 5. Kate Middleton: Who made Kate Middleton's wedding dress? 6. Ashton Kutcher: Did Ashton cheat? 7. Michael Jackson: Was Michael Jackson murdered? 8. Selena Gomez: Is Selena Gomez pregnant? 9. Lindsay Lohan: Is Lindsay Lohan going to jail? 10. Charlie Sheen: What happened to Charlie Sheen's teeth?
Top news search terms and questions include: 1. Earthquake in Japan: How big was the earthquake in Japan? 2. Hurricane Irene: What caused Hurricane Irene? 3. Steve Jobs: How much was Steve Jobs worth? 4. Royal Wedding: What did William whisper to Kate on the balcony? 5. Occupy Wall Street: Who started Occupy Wall Street? 6. iPhone: When will Apple release the iPhone 5? 7. Osama bin Laden: Who killed bin Laden? 8. Casey Anthony: Where is Casey Anthony hiding? 9. 10th anniversary of Sept. 11: What is happening on the 10th anniversary of 9/11? 10. Amy Winehouse: How did Amy Winehouse die?
Top political searches and questions include: 1. Barack Obama: Will Obama get re-elected? 2. Mitt Romney: What is Mitt Romney's religion? 3. Sarah Palin: Is Sarah Palin running for president? 4. Michele Bachmann: Is Michele Bachmann crazy? 5. Anthony Weiner: Where can I find Anthony Weiner's Twitter pics? 6. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Who was Arnold's mistress? 7. Gay Marriage: Which states allow gay marriage? 8. Withdrawl from Iraq: When will the troops come home? 9. Iowa Caucus: When is the Iowa caucus? 10. Muammar Ghadafi: Who will lead Libya after Ghadafi?
Top predictions for 2012: 1. George Clooney wins his second AND third Academy Award 2. Dr. Oz surpasses Dr. Phil in ratings in a post-Oprah world 3. Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl second year in a row 4. McDonald's adds the McRib to its permanent menu 5. New York reclaims its spot as top the U.S. travel destination from 2011 leader Orlando 6. Breakout star of 2011, Nicki Minaj, leapfrogs pop icon Katy Perry in album sales 7. Pippa jumps onto the list of top 10 baby names of the year 8. Facebook goes public with world's largest IPO 9. Tiger Woods retires from golf
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