Who Owns the Alphabet?

December 2004

New: the BBC has done this for 2012. Well done, guys - only a decade late with the idea ;-)

There's not been much change in the standard index, with 15 of the 26 letters having the same winner for all three years. It's been a good year for Apple, with the success of the iPod propelling them to the top of the A category. Ironically, the I category has been won by itools.com, which has no connection to Apple at all, despite sharing a name with their software suite. Can a domain name dispute be far away?

See below for the lowdown, or view last year'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 (2004) Description Comment Hon. Ment. (top 10) Suggest 2003 Winner 2002 Winner
A Apple Maker of the Macintosh computer range and the iPod. The success of the iPod has pushed Apple to the top of the tree. Avis Rent a Car, A List Apart, Find A Grave amazon YourDictionary.com YourDictionary.com
B Physical Review B International journal specializing in condensed-matter phenomena, as well as materials physics. B'Tselem is pushed into second by the surprising newcomer. B&Q consolidates in Q and moves into B. B'Tselem, Belgian Railways (b-rail), B&Q best buy B'Tselem B'Tselem
C CNET.com Technology product reviews, news, jobs and downloads. CNET still dominates this category, with 5 of the top 10 links. C-SPAN.org, GNU Compiler Collection cnn As 2004 As 2004
D D-Link Manufacturer of hubs, switches, NICs, Ethernet. The influence of the blogosphere: MT gets an Hon. Ment., probably because the current version number has a D in it. D-Lib Magazine, MoveableType dictionary As 2004 As 2004
E E Online Entertainment news, celebrity gossip, games and community. Jerry Orbach died this week :-( eBay, E*TRADE, MSN Hotmail (e-mail) ebay As 2004 As 2004
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 firefox As 2004 As 2004
G The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Dedicated to education and research about causes, treatment and the search for a cure. GMail is breathing down Susan's neck in second place, despite still being in beta. GMail, Zero G Software games As 2004 As 2004
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 hotmail As 2004 As 2004
I iTools.com Internet tools: Search, research, reference, look up or translate just about anything in one place. A site pinching the name of Apple's software has scooped top spot. Who says plagiarism doesn't pay? iWon, Apple iTunes, ICQ, I, Robot (film) ikea iWon Disney Online
J Jennifer Lopez Pop star who looks better than she sings. J-Lo takes over; J. Paul Getty Museum in second. Good publicity trumps good art. J.Crew, triple j (an Australian youth radio station), J. Paul Getty Museum jokes JCrew triple j
K The K Desktop Environment KDE is a powerful graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations. No change in K this year. Kmart.com, K-Meleon kazaa As 2004 As 2004
L Council of Europe The COE is an intergovernmental organisation mainly concerned with human rights and democracy.   L'Oreal , The L-Space Web, LEXPRESS.fr lyrics Europa LEXPRESS.fr
M Texas A&M University U.S. University A&M stands for Agricultural and Mechanical. M&M's, RMS, M-Systems mapquest CORDIS: I*M Europe Portal Page 3M
N SBC Pacific Bell Knowledge Network Explorer A searchable database of outstanding Internet learning sites. Still no breakthrough for the N-Gage. *NSYNC, Nokia N-Gage, IN-N-OUT Burger news As 2004 As 2004
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 online dictionary As 2004 As 2004
P PFlag For parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays.   P&O Ferries paris hilton Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Q Q4music.com Music news, commentary and reviews, with online music shopping.   B&Q, Q Web quotes As 2004 As 2004
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. recipes As 2004 As 2004
S McDonald's Low quality "restaurant" chain/franchise with poor corporate ethics. McDonald's moves into top spot. Can world domination be far away? GNU suddenly disappears from the Top 10. Hoover's Online, Tom's Hardware Guide spybot The GNU Project The GNU Project
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 tara reid As 2004 As 2004
U The whatUseek Network A meta-search engine with directory from the ODP. Every entry except number 1 is a US university. University of Minnesota, University of Michigan ups As 2004 As 2004
V Bobby WorldWide HTML accessibility checker. The alt text for the links is "Bobby Approved (v 3.2)"! V-Day (anti-violence), Channel [V], V&A Museum verizon As 2004 As 2004
W georgewbush.com Redirects to gop.com - the Republican National Committee I can't actually view this site - it's inaccessible to non-Americans. The White House, Form W-4 weather The White House The White House
X X.org Home of the X Window System. The rise of X.org over XFree86 is reflected in its greater Google popularity. The X-Files, Mac OS X, Ansari X Prize, XFree86 xbox Netscape.com Netscape.com
Y Yahoo Messenger Instant messaging program. Yahoo! regains the top spot after a year away. Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, 92nd Street Y yahoo Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization Yahoo!
Z HealthAtoZ.com Medical and healthcare resources for patients.    ZNet, La-Z-Boy zip codes As 2004 As 2004

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, approximately yearly, but I'm not promising anything.

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