Apple 2.0

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Type 'sell' on Google Finance and Apple pops up - update

December 29, 2012: 6:53 PM ET

Type "over sold" and you get Amazon

Screen Shot 2012-12-29 at 6.46.10 PMFORTUNE -- Tricks you can play with Google Finance:

  • Typing "sell" (without quotes) brings up Apple (AAPL)
  • Typing "over sold" brings up Amazon (AMZN)
  • Typing "buy" brings up -- you guessed it -- Best Buy (BBY)

Saturday was a busy day for Google Finance memes. The "sell Apple" one was started, apparently, by Greedy Picks, who described it as "kicking someone in the face when they are already down." A reader at The Next Web reader noticed the "over sold -- Amazon" connection. I found Best Buy hoping for something more interesting.

No, this isn't a Google (GOOG) Easter egg joke or Mountain View conspiracy. It's probably just statistics. As TNW reader Hej-san points out, the result is likely based on the number of times the word 'sell' is mentioned in a search for "AAPL" or "Apple."

Click on the blue "More results" button on the Apple page and you can see what other stocks are popular sells. For starters, after Apple: ARM Holdings (ADR), Shin-Etsu Chemical and Under Armour (UA).

UPDATE: A spokesperson from Google has written to several bloggers -- including PFHub's Daniel Guidotti, who claims he was the first to spot the "sell Apple" phenomenon -- to give Google's official position:

I'm writing from Google…. just wanted to say this isn't deliberate — our algorithms seem to be keying off of the words "sell" and "sells" in the description of this very popular stock symbol. We're working on how to adjust things so it doesn't happen anymore. Thanks for raising.

Sure enough, type "sell" now and you no longer get Apple. You do, however, get a list of stocks beginning with ARM Holdings.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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