Apple scores three of top ten spots in Google Zeitgeist 2011

Apple-related(s aapl) things were on a lot of people’s minds in 2011, according to Google’s Zeitgeist 2011 (s goog) search term year-in-review. Three Apple-themed queries appear in the search giant’s list of the top ten fastest-rising searches worldwide, including one shipping product, one phantom product, and the man who started it all.

Number six on the annual list was Apple’s iPhone 5, the Mac-maker’s highest placing search term, and ironically, one for a product that didn’t actually ship in 2011. Instead of an iPhone 5, Apple released the iPhone 4S, but leading up to the unveiling of that product, speculation was rampant and the iPhone 5 name was on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

The rumored device reportedly featured a larger screen and thinner body, in addition to the 8 megapixel camera and Siri voice assistant that shipped with the 4S. It’s high positioning on this list bodes well for when Apple actually releases an iPhone 5 (if it’ll be called that) in 2012. The iPhone 5 hit its stride in the week of Sept. 25, 2011, at basically the fever pitch point of rumors about the iPhone one week ahead of the 4S unveiling.

The iPad 2 was the number 10 fastest-rising term in 2011, and had the benefit of being an actual shipping product, too. Searches for iPad 2 rose 939 percent from 2010 to 2011, and peaked in February two weeks ahead of the day the tablet actually went on sale in the U.S. online and in stores. The iPad 3 didn’t make the top 10 overall, but it is number 10 in the category of Consumer Electronics for Google’s 2011 fastest-rising global search terms. Something tells me it’ll pick up considerably in popularity over the next few months.

Finally, Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs also scored a place, coming in at number nine on the list. The consumer electronics pioneer passed away in October of 2011, and that’s exactly when his popularity on the search engine reached its peak. Jobs’ death was front-page news around the world, and his death prompted multiple media events, documentaries and the early release of his authorized biography.

Apple had other successes too in terms of capturing the attention of Googlers worldwide, including the iPhone 4S, which the second-fastest riser in the Consumer Electronics subcategory, just behind the Amazon Kindle Fire (s amzn). The full Google Zeitgeist site is a very pretty, interactive exploration of the year in review from the perspective of the world’s most popular search engine, and definitely merits a closer look if you want to discover more.