Google Suggest offers window on rest of the world

Popular search terms provide insight into other nations

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Any web searcher worth his salt knows that Google likes to make suggestions as you type through its Google Suggest feature. You know the kind of thing – hit A first and up pops Amazon – but what happens in other parts of the world?

The list of suggestions is based on popularity of search terms from other users and some secret Google alchemy, which makes the regional differences an intriguing window on other countries.

Rakuten 'em up

In Japan, many suggestions are shared – H for Hotmail is one – and some are completely alien. Type R at the start of a search and you'll get Rakuten.

Never heard of it? It's a huge online shopping mall that aggregates stores from all over Japan and receives millions of hits daily.

Utube not on list

More prosaically, U calls up not the wonderful misspelling Utube that it does in the US, but instead delivers the idea of searching for information on banking group UFJ.

Lastly, instead of G leading initially to Gmail, the Japanese flavour of Google serves up a great big dollop of Goo – that's a portal site that looks amazingly similar to Yahoo.