Apple Beats Google, Twitter, Facebook in Digital Ink

Apple's iPhone and iPad launches have helped the computer maker trump Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft in news coverage, according to the Pew Research Center.

Thanks to the launch of its iPhone 4 smartphone and iPad tablet computer, Apple bested Google in news coverage, grabbing 15.1 percent of technology headlines compared with 11.4 percent for Google.

Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism culled its findings from headlines for 437 technology stories appearing in the lead sections of 52 different news outlets from June 2009 to June 2010.

Apple's iPhone 3GS (June 2009) and iPhone 4 (June 2010) dominated tech coverage for the duration, followed by the iPad launch in April of this year. These events were accompanied by "flashy press events and often drawn out releases of new products."

Roughly 42 percent of Apple-related stories described the company as "innovative and superior," while 27 percent hyped its loyal fan base. Even so, some 17 percent of stories about the company dealt with how its products were overrated and couldn't live up to the hype.

Google, too, offers big high-tech news events, but the company is a different animal. While Apple CEO Steve Jobs got up on stage and whipped out new devices, Google demonstrated a new search user interface and predictive search on projection screens.

Such Google product stories notched 25 percent of Google coverage, mostly because they lack the glitz and glamour of hardware and software that accompanies the iPhone and iPad.

Google also makes Android mobile phone software, but that release is typically demonstrated by OEM smartphone makers, such as Verizon Wireless at their launch events. Stories pitting Google versus Apple in the mobile Web war are big draws, too.

While Apple and Google took the top two slots in tech news, social-network stars Twitter and Facebook followed in the third and fourth positions.

Microsoft, which for several years captured headlines for antitrust lawsuits with the Justice Department and European Commission, significantly lagged, capturing a fifth of the coverage of Apple and less than half that of Twitter, according to Pew.

Tech topics ranged far and wide, though 18 percent concerned stories about how technology is impacting peoples' lives. For example, how parents are texting their children.

Cyber-security, privacy concerns, crime incidents and other negative issues comprised 32 percent of tech coverage, followed by 26 percent of reports about social and cultural trends.

Corporate news and policy legislation stories filled another 22 percent. Gadget and product reviews notched 16 percent of all tech content.