Popularity estimates with Google Trends

I decided to use google trends to see how Haiku has being doing for popularity over time. Looking over five years, the system seems to be on a flat line - or even gentle glide path of declining interest - albeit rising again in recent months. This result seems counter-intuitive to those of us inside the “scene” when we consider the accelerating pace of progress:

Blue = Haiku, Yellow = Serenity, Red = Genode

Rather than looking at Haiku in isolation I have chosen to compare it with others in the market. Here we compare it with two of its “frenemies”:

Serenity. I have chosen this because it represents another OS inspired by 1990s “state of the art”. Unlike Haiku, Serenity is satisfied to be nostalgic project rather than alternative to modern OS. As for funding and organisation, its key developers are sponsored by Patreon and GitHub donations.

Genode: A modern capability based operating system. Like Haiku, it does have a company founded to promote its development and apparently full time developers but gives the impression of being very small scale.

Blue = Haiku, Yellow = Serenity, Red = Genode, Green = Fuchsia

For this shorter period I have chosen to add in Fuchsia: google’s replacement to Android and technically similar to genode. This is already used in some HomeHub.

Note how popular Haiku is relative to the other platforms. I have obviously not included mainstream UNIX like BSD or GNU/Linux whose popularity I presumed would reduce Haiku to just a flat line along the bottom of the graph. Haiku is roughly twice as popular as Serenity and four times as popular as genode. Fuchsia, with all of Google’s resources behind its development and their hype, only enjoys five times Haiku’s searches.

Considering these operating systems with their developmental ups and downs, technological milestones, and relative movements compared to each other, try first thought is to wonder why there seems to be so little movement in the hit rankings, either in the relative popularity of rival OSs or at an absolute level.

So why is everything just a flatline in the longterm? Are these systems actually enjoying more popularity as they mature but this is masked by users simply abandoning google for other search engines or coming across it outside of the broader internet, such as through social media? I like to think that you search for Haiku whilst researching it, and afterwards may be a user or member of the community. If Google is a gatekeeper, the rate of people coming through the gate may be constant but the number of people inside might be increasing linearly.

A rather unhappier reason may just be consumer apathy. The rise of hardware that is locked into one specific OS may just be frustrating the ability of people to switch operating systems even on otherwise redundant machines.

Anyway, what do others think? Is the apparent flatline of web search interest for Haiku and other esoteric OS a cause for concern?


I understand the wish that Haiku should be popular. But in fact: Does it really matter? That’s just my thought about it…


That’s a valid point of view, although I feel we all benefit if there are more people within the Haiku scene. But then again there is malware and other problems if Haiku becomes too popular.

I guess Trends won’t not say how many people are using, or even interested in Haiku, any more than a barometer alone can tell you the weather. But I did expect Trends to show some sort of trend with at least one of the OS we look at.

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It seems the Google trends website is not giving any info about how the results are generated. So it is hard to interpret anything.

It’s also not clear which search term you used. Just “Haiku”? “Haiku operating system”? Does Google only include people who searched exactly the same thing?


They do tell you something, but not very clear: FAQ about Google Trends data - Trends Help

Trends does allow you to pick either search terms or “topics” to display. They describe topics thus:

Topics are a group of terms that share the same concept in any language. You can find topics below your search term. For example, if you search London, and choose the corresponding topic, your search includes results for topics like “Capital of the UK” and “Londres,” which is “London” in Spanish.

I had to select the topic “operating system” for Haiku otherwise poetry searches would swamp the results.

Greater popularity should result in more income (to spend on development), more developers, more interest in making Haiku versions of existing software.
So, yes, popularity is good.


True. I missed that point.

For nerd topics like Haiku,Serenity or Genode,I think the statistics doesn’t say much.
Big parts of the open-source community have left the evil surveillance machine years ago.
If you know how to install Haiku,you most likely also know how to set MetaGer,Swisscows or DuckDuckGo as your default search engine :wink:
Looking at the Haiku website statistics may be a bit more accurate: Fathom - simple website analytics
Still,many people block trackers nowadays so that isn’t 100% exact either.
On that page you clearly see an increasing interest in Haiku.
What I personally also noticed is that the Forum activity increased very much since I joined,two years ago or something like that.
Forum activity is also an interesting metric to see how many people use Haiku,and how much they care about it.


Is it taken into account in the search overview that people ask for Haiku or Haiku the OS?

Because if you only enter haiku, you will of course also get many short Japanese poems and their stories presented.

this is true.
it is also with baidu website.

i have to try the key “haiku安装” “haiku 常用” …

Operating systems like Haiku are more of a choice to be different, the user actually goes looking for something different to try out, this is why I am here.

People who ‘just use’ a system have no interest in using anything other than what came on their laptop/computer/tablet/phone.

Apple, Microsoft, & Android are bought ready installed, something a lot of people are frightened of doing for themselves, so they will always have the biggest share of the market.

Linux is a growing area, mainly because it makes old machines work, when the major suppliers cease to update them anymore.

Linux is my main O/S, followed by BSD, & then niche systems like Haiku, because they interest me - but people like us are few & far between, so I don’t expect to see Haiku very high in the O/S ratings.

Plus, Haiku is very different from mainstream O/S, enough to put many off even trying it.


Can you explain how you used Google Trends, please?

Could you be more specific where I need to be more clear? I found it quite self explanatory insofar you put in the search term(s) that you want to see over time, it might offer you categories by autofill-like system, then you pick a period of time, and boom! it spits out the charts.

I would advise giving it a go yourself as it would be interesting to see if your results are similar. Or perhaps there are other comparisons you can think of that are relevant to this topic?

And if I may turn the question around, feel free to let me know if you happen to find an easier way to embed Trends results in this forum. You can download a script on each chart that you can supposedly embed, but presumably the forum software strips out such code when you post.

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I am sure you are right that many people look at Haiku out of curiosity and a desire to try something new.

But there is another category, which includes myself. This consists of people who are fed up with the constant efforts of the major software vendors to sell you things. And as part of that they track you, and keep and use your personal information.

So I would say that any user of Duckduckgo, for example, is a potential user of Haiku. And DDG handles 100 million searches a day. Even if the average user does 100 searches a day (unlikely) that means there could be a million DDG users (though not necessarily. If a few people use it far more than 100 times a day, the figure would be lower). And if they make 50 searches a day, there might be 2 million users.

There are a lot of assumptions here. Many people use DDG on their phones. If they have a computer at home, they may well use it on that. But if they don’t, then obviously they are not a potential Haiku user - until Haiku appears on mobile phones. That’s not going to be for a while, if ever.

And I would add that Haiku’s major OS competitor is probably Linux.


Linux is definitely the number one choice of people trying to get away from vendor lock in, & the related costs, that was my original reason for using Linux.

Since then, I have tried several alternatives, so I’m always willing to look at alternative systems, even Kolibri… :wink:

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I see it as this, the only real competitor to Windows is Haiku, both are platforms, are GUI only, are structured in plain English etc.

Linux is not really any of those things which is why it never caught on for the desktop and never will as the complexity and frankly ugly guts of the linux system always bleeds through no matter the GUI frightening desktop users away. Of course linux gets a great deal of resources thrown at it as its used for all sorts of thing other than the desktop which it excels at.

Haiku on the other hand doesn’t get those kind of resources and is intended as a home computer os which windows does a really good job at, most people are quite happy with windows but not Microsoft or the direction they are pushing windows in.

Of those willing to leave the realm of windows they will try some linux distro first, most will then go back to windows shortly after their first linux experience but a few will stick it out. Haiku isn’t really on the radar of those looking for an alternative but it should be.

Something to consider is Youtube which I believe is the second most popular search engine, Haiku does generate a good number of views when popular retro/alt-computer channels do a video on it but only a small number of channels have covered it there are so many more that haven’t.

A way to move the needle a little without spending money is have an active Youtube channel, Haiku’s official channel was last active 13 years ago and doesn’t even show when you search Youtube for Haiku!!. This to me is surprising as so many people use Youtube for everything especially tutorials or checking something out. Relying on Google searches and other internet forums is not the way to go.

What could help haiku is a proper Youtube channel which provides regular demos of the OS performing the kind of tasks windows users would.

  • tutorials for everything, introductions, installing etc.
  • demonstrating the most basic tasks, were to get software from, how is it installed
  • showcasing productivity software running on haiku
  • show what games can run on Haiku, source ports and emulators.
  • make a big point of it being not linux.

It doesn’t even have to be voiced just recorded screen captures, anything is better than nothing.

Hopefully that generates a little more awareness and eventually leads to other Youtube channels, checking it out, there are a huge number of tech/obscure/retro channels that would be perfect for Haiku exposure but many don’t even know it exists when talking to those channels.


Maybe running a Youtube channel does not need a lot of money, but it sure needs aelot of time. And it also helps Google maintain their quasi-monopoly on internet videos. Personally that’s not a thing I wish to spend my time on.

It seems several other developers in Haiku think similarly (possibly for different reasons). So, who will do it?


I’d be fine with making videos about Haiku, but I don’t want to put them on youtube.

Perhaps we can have them on our site?


This should be a collective effort done by the wider community if anyone is willing to do it. I do agree that developers, either core or third-party apps, may not have time for this

you can use the same videos and put the on all the major vid platforms. YouTube is just the largest, Odyssey, rumble etc etc etc. you don’t have much work after the videos are up.

a lot of work to put them up however.