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Like any good blogger I read my access logs to see who has been reading. Lately I've been indexed by an Accoona robot. Accona claims to take its name from a song in Disney's Lion King - "hakuna matata". This is a bit hard to believe, but true. Anyway, they claim to be a search engine focused on US and China and are apparently capable of some staggering leaps of logic. The most humorous of these is extrapolation from what looks like a very small data set to the characteristics of an entire nation of over a billion people. Let's see how this is done. For reference, this information is taken from their white paper written by Ira Machefsky and John Fernandez which you can find here

The first thing they do is list the top 25 search terms on their Chinese site. Here they are:

Spring Festival 19%
Tsunami 12%
Car 8%
China 6%
Chinese IM software 4%
CEPA (HK business pact) 3%
Plastic flower pot manufacturer 3%
Copper 3%
Mifare MF rc-531 (wireless chip) 3%
Textile printing ink 3%
Car Audio 3%
Education 3%
AL Corp Musical Instruments 3%
Accoona 3%
Chinese railways 3%
Thermo 2%
Mongolian Software(Chinese WP software) 2%
Shanghai 2%
Elderly in China 2%
Insurance 2%
Emigration 2%
India 2%
Mosaics 2%
Lantern festival 2%
Laptop mother board 2%

From this amazing data they draw some incredible conclusions:

Fully 7 of the top 25 search terms have to do not just with business but specifically with manufacturing: “CEPA” (3%), a recently passed Hong Kong business pact, “plastic flower pot manufacturer” (3%), “copper” (3%), “Mifare MF rc-531” (3%) a wireless chip spec, “textile printing ink” (3%), “thermo” (2%), “laptop motherboard” (2%). Expanding to include general business terms finds two more search terms: “insurance” (2%) and, significantly, “education” (3%)

They go on and list the top 25 searches on their US server and get some results focused on hair care and what appears to be a single hit for "Game Cheats". Comparing the two they conclude:
There is a fascinating disparity between the Top 25 searches on Accoona’s U.S. and Chinese sites. The category profiles for the two sites are the inverse of each other. Chinese searchers are focused on manufacturing and education while U.S. searchers are focused on entertainment, celebrities and games (and looking for ways to cheat at those games). One significant consequence of this finding is that there is considerable opportunity for manufacturing and business-focused search in China, an area that Accoona has pioneered.

If you are not laughing yet, let me tell you why I am. There are two reasons. The first is "plastic flower pot manufacturer". Apparently Chinese people care more about plastic flower pots than they do about the elderly, insurance and emigration, not to mention the entire country of India which shares a border with them and reputedly has nuclear weapons. Plastic flower pots are more popular than steel or heavy industry. Al Corp Musical instruments are more popular than Steinway. The Milfare rc531 is more popular than Chairman Mao.

The second cause for amusement is that all the results (which are stated in percentages - I find it hard to believe that their sample size was much more than a hundred or so) point to the success of Accoona's business model.

Is it too cruel to take the next step and claim that absurd "research" implies an absurd business? I don't know. It might just be self-serving propaganda. Ira Machefsky and John Fernandez are you out there? What were you thinking? Are you laughing too?



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