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Google Zeitgeist 2012: Whitney, Gangnam, iPad 3 and more

The late singer ranks atop the most popular search topics for the year. Also high on the list were a music video phenomenon, a fall superstorm, and a much anticipated Apple tablet.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

The death of Whitney Houston in February led to Google's top search for 2012.

Looking at the world's most popular searches for the year, Google's Zeitgeist 2012 uncovered a variety of people, events, and even a couple of tech products.

In second place behind Houston was music video phenom Gangnam Style. Hurricane Sandy took third place, followed by the iPad 3, Diablo 3, Kate Middleton, the 2012 Olympics, Amanda Todd, Michael Clarke Duncan, and BBB12.

The list also drilled down to the top searches among specific categories, including people, movies, TV shows, and consumer electronics.

The iPad 3 proved the most popular item in the consumer electronics area. Samsung's Galaxy 3 was next on the list, followed by the iPad Mini, Google's Nexus 7, the Galaxy Note 2, the Sony PlayStation, the iPad 4, Microsoft Surface, Kindle Fire, and Nokia's Lumia 920.

The iPhone 5 didn't make it on the top 10 list among consumer electronics but it did take third place in the image search category.

The full list breaks down the searches by country as well as category.

To compile its 2012 Zeitgeist, Google took more than 1 trillion queries entered into its search engine for the year and then factored in data from Google Trends and other tools. The company also excluded spam and repeat queries to find the searches that generated the greatest amount of traffic this year compared with 2011.

The Zeitgeist lists "best reflect the spirit of 2012," according to the search giant.