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Asia’s Year in Search: What we searched for in 2015

From dubsmashes to gemstones, here’s a look at the memes and trends that gripped Asia this year in Google's 2015 Year in Search lists.

Apps and Tech
Homegrown Asian apps are on the rise. One of the biggest hits this year was Indonesia’s [GoJek], on-demand scooters to help commuters get around in Indonesia’s notorious traffic jams. Meanwhile, the inexorable rise of e-commerce in India continues as [Flipkart], and [Snapdeal] make it to India’s top ten searches, showing that the online shopping craze is as strong as ever.

But what people really love to do is play games on their phones. While [Agar.io] was the big viral app of the year globally, [Dubsmash] was unquestionably Asia’s big meme generator. Searches for the lip-syncing video app trended in the Philippines and Indonesia—no surprise there when you look at how celebrities and influencers have been using it, including the popular Governor of Jakarta, known affectionately as Ahok (check out his Dubmash). In India, Bollywood stars like Sonam Kapoor invited fans to submit Dubsmash renditions of her hit song “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.” Lip sync battles with pop stars on late night TV shows may be viral sensations in the West, but here in Asia, we prefer to do it ourselves.

Pop culture
Speaking of dubs, [Aldub] was the top term in the Philippines. The “dub” in this case actually stands for Yaya Dub, the lead female character on hit Filipino show Eat Bulaga played by “dubsmash queen” Maine Mendoza (check out her YouTube channel if you need any proof of her smashing talent). The “Al” is for Alden, her love interest. Their much-anticipated meeting and the accompanying hashtag #AlDubEBTamangPanahon (translation: AlDub, in the right time) drew more than 41 million tweets, smashing the previous Twitter record held by Brazil's defeat to Germany in last year’s world cup, according to the BBC. Watch out: when Pinoys catch on to a trend, it’s sure to become a social media phenomenon. 
Dubsmash

Dubsmash

Local films normally rank high up in Asia’s lists, but this year we saw a surprising crossover: the British comedy caper Kingsman starring Colin Firth was the top trending film in Korea this year. As this BI article explains: “The film opened in South Korea in mid-February and has since earned $40 million, making it the film’s highest-grossing market abroad (behind the UK and Australia).” What could account for this success? The film’s storyline of the wealthy elite getting their comeuppance resonated after the “nutrage” incident embroiled the country. Korean Englishman, a British YouTube star who speaks fluent Korean, presents his own humorous take on the film here: 

영국남자: 킹스맨 시크릿 에이전트 되는 법 // Becoming a Kingsman Secret Agent!!

영국남자: 킹스맨 시크릿 에이전트 되는 법 // Becoming a Kingsman Secret Agent!!

News and Events

Across the world, hostage crises and Paris emerged as top keywords. But Japan really stands out for this since it hadn't searched for those topics until two Japanese hostages were killed. [Islamic State] and the murdered journalist [Kenji Goto] were high up on Japan’s top searched terms of the year. Rugby gave the Japanese a reason to celebrate though, as the country’s underdog team defeated rugby giants New Zealand in the astonishing opener of the Rugby World Cup. 

And in Korea, Japan, and Singapore, an epidemic that prompted recurring nightmares of 2003’s SARS scare, [MERS] or Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome was a top search term. This year’s record-settingly bad levels of haze meant that [PSI] was the top term in Singapore.

Economy
Speaking of recurring nightmares, [1 USD to MYR] trended in Malaysia when Malaysians were worried that a slide in the ringgit’s value against the dollar would trigger a 1998-style economic meltdown. 

But Indonesians apparently started parking their money elsewhere: [batu akik], or precious gemstones was the top trending term in Indonesia this year. The soaring prices of these gemstones has led to online searches on Google as well as offline searches—people have been found to be digging for them in urban parks. A healthy trade in these stones, thought to possess supernatural qualities, even increased Bali’s forex earnings. Is this Indonesia’s modern day tulip mania? 

Go to Google.com/2015 to explore the rest of the 2015 Year in Search stories and top trending charts from the rest of Asia and around the world.