World’s Most Popular Spiritual Leader

May 19th, 2010

World's Most Popular Spiritual Leader

According to a 2010 survey, the Dalai Lama may just be the most popular religious leader in the world.

Leader of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is believed to be the latest incarnation of a succession of tulkus–enlightened Buddhist lamas said to be able to reincarnate themselves to continue their vows–descended from Avalokiteśvara, the embodiment of the compassion of the Buddhas.

The Dalai Lama has, in the past, been the leader of the Tibetan government. In the current day, he is responsible for the Central Tibetan Administration, Tibet’s government-in-exile.

The Dalai Lama placed second, by only two percentage points, behind Barack Obama as the world’s most popular leader. The survey was conducted in six countries between March 31st and April 12th, 2010, by Harris Interactive for France24 and Radio France-Internationale.

World’s Most Popular RPGs

April 21st, 2010

Role-playing games in their current form owe their existence to a 15th century form of improvisational theatre called commedia dell’arte, where players were given roles and situations without a script to guide them. It wasn’t until the 1970s, however, that Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson combined this theatrical form with Gygax’s Chainmail wargame to create the world’s first modern role-playing game—Dungeons and Dragons.

World's Most Popular RPGs - Dungeons & Dragons

Currently in its fourth edition, Dungeons and Dragons remains the most popular tabletop role-playing game. Its future has looked uncertain at times. In the early 1980s, the game was mired in a moral panic centered on the accusation that the game promoted Satanism, witchcraft, murder and other unsavory practices. Later, the game’s original publisher, TSR, approached bankruptcy before its 1997 purchase by Magic: The Gathering publishers Wizards of the Coast. D&D recovered from these setbacks, however, and current estimates place its player base around 1.5 million.

Of course, RPG video games and the explosion of the MMORPG—Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game—have redefined public perception of the RPG. The desktop, rather than the tabletop, is now the preferred venue for role-playing (although staunch advocates of tabletop gaming might argue that this is not, in fact, role-playing).

World's Most Popular RPGs - World of Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft is now the most popular role-playing game in the world. Based in the setting created for Blizzard’s original Warcraft real-time strategy games, the game was first announced in September 2001. New areas of the world were unveiled in 2007 and 2008 by the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions.

World of Warcraft had 11.5 million subscribers as of December 2008 and holds a Guinness World Record for the most popular RPG by subscribers. It holds over 60% of the MMORPG subscription market.

America’s Most Popular Department Store

April 2nd, 2010

America's Most Popular Department Store

If you’ve ever seen an “I’d rather be shopping at Nordstrom” bumper sticker, take note: America really would rather be shopping at Nordstrom. According to a recent survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), Nordstrom is the most popular department store in the country.

The upscale department store was founded in 1901 when Swedish immigrant and successful gold prospector John W. Nordstrom returned to Seattle and opened a shoe store with Carl F. Wallin, a local cobbler. It wasn’t until 1963 that Wallin & Nordstrom, then owned by Nordstrom’s three sons, expanded to include apparel and changed their name to Nordstrom Best. That name lasted ten years before being shortened to Nordstrom.

Nordstrom has dominated ASCI almost every year it’s been measured. Target managed to rank first in 2001, however, and Nordstrom’s rank wasn’t measured for the five years following that victory.
This year, Nordstrom ranked first with a score of 83 while Target holds second place at 80. Dollar General, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s all ranked third most popular with scores of 79.

Most Popular Day to Rob a Bank

March 24th, 2010

Most Popular Day to Rob a Bank

In 2009, there were more than 6,000 robberies, burglaries and larcenies committed in banks across the United States—almost 1,000 fewer than in 2008. Thankfully, only twenty-one people were killed during these incidents and each of those was one of the criminals involved. Of the over $45,000 taken during these robberies, only $8,000 has been recovered.

Most important to those who’d rather avoid being present for a bank robbery, though, is the day most of them occurred. The most popular day of the week to rob a bank was Friday. Twenty percent of the heists occurred on Fridays, with Mondays and Tuesdays being the second and third most popular days at 18% and 17%, respectively.

The least popular days were, unsurprisingly, Saturdays and Sundays.

Twenty-seven percent of the crimes occurred between the hours of 9 and 11 am, while 23% occurred between 11 am and 1 pm and 22% occurred between 3 and 6 pm.

The statistics were compiled in the FBI’s Bank Crime Statistics report for 2009.

World’s Most Popular Web Browser

March 17th, 2010

World's Most Popular Browser - Mozilla Firefox

“The most important program on your computer is your web browser—and yet most people aren’t sure which web browser they’re using or what a web browser even is.” So begins a video, posted on Google’s official blog, which briefly attempts to remedy that problem.

Given that information, you might expect Microsoft Internet Explorer, Windows’ built-in web browser, to be the most popular browser in the world—and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Between IE6 and IE7, Microsoft’s own browser had a higher market share than any other until January 2009.

According to W3Schools, the current most popular browser is Mozilla Firefox with 46.5% of the market. This is likely due to the good publicity Firefox has received since 2004, when Forbes declared it the best browser. Since then, PC World and CNET.com have both compared it favorably to Internet Explorer. Firefox included tabbed browsing long before it was standard and, in 2006, Mozilla was known to respond more quickly to vulnerabilities in their browser than Microsoft.

The fastest growing browser is also the most recently introduced. Google’s Chrome has, since its release in September 2008, snapped up 11.6% of the market—making it the third most popular browser in the world.

World’s Most Popular Club

March 8th, 2010

World's Most Popular Club

On February 1st, 2009, Boston’s new House of Blues opened its doors for its first public event. After just one year, that club has become the world’s most popular music venue.

Live Nation, owners of the House of Blues franchise since 2006, opened the new club in the former location of Avalon, one of Boston’s more popular nightclubs. Concert promoter Don Law hoped to book as many as 300 shows in 2009 and, while he fell short of the mark by some 50 shows, the results are impressive nonetheless—no club in the world sold as many tickets that year as the House of Blues in Boston.

The most popular club in the world may have gotten some of its help from the location, next to Fenway Park, and the nostalgia of former patrons of Avalon. It’s also one of the few midsized venues in the city—most of the other venues in Boston can only host a smaller or much larger crowd.

Most Popular Ads of Super Bowl XLIV

February 16th, 2010

The New Orleans Saints may have won the game in 2010, but the real Super Bowl XLIV winner was the same as the year before. No, I’m not talking about the Indianapolis Colts—I’m talking about Doritos. Their 4th quarter spot is 2010’s most popular Super Bowl ad.

The ad, featuring a Doritos-clad samurai reclaiming a purloined bag of chips, was part of this year’s “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign of consumer-generated videos. One of six finalists, “Snack Attack Samurai” by CBer was voted into the Top 3 by Doritos fans across America. That alone guaranteed its placement during the Super Bowl. The 116.5 million viewers who, according to The NielsenCompany, tuned in to see the ad made it not only the most popular Super Bowl ad ever but the most popular television program in history—beating the 1983 airing of the M*A*S*H series finale.

This year, the second place went to Audi’s “Green Police” ad with 115.6 million viewers and third went to an ad for Electronic Arts’ “Dante’s Inferno” with 115 million.

Most Popular Girls’ Names in the US

May 11th, 2009

Since 1996, Emily has been the most popular girl’s name in the US. In fact, the Social Security Administration, the government organization that tallies babies’ names every year, named its own spokesbaby Emily. It looks like Emily’s going to have to resign now, though, as Emma has become the most popular girl’s name in the US.

Emma wasn’t the only name to outperform Emily in 2008. Isabella ranked second place, knocking Emily down to a humble third place. Following Emily, from most to least popular, were Madison, Ava, Olivia, Sophia, Abigail, Elizabeth and Chloe.

The SSA has also started ranking names by their year-to-year changes in popularity. The rising star among girl’s names this year was Khloe, which rose from 665 in 2007 to 196 in 2008. Miley, in only its sophomore year on the list, rose from 279 to 127.

Most Popular Destinations for College Graduates

May 7th, 2009

The most populous city in the US is also the most popular city for college graduates looking to put their degrees to work. New York City topped a list of cities, compiled by job hunting sites CareerCast.com and Going Global, ranked by their popularity as destinations for graduates looking for entry level employment opportunities.

The Big Apple was a top choice on the lists of 83% of those surveyed. Washington, DC, which ranked second, was chosen by only 65% of the surveyed students. Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco rounded out the top five cities listed by these first time job hunters.

The two sites also found that the United Kingdom is the most popular country for both American students and foreign-born students at US colleges when asked where they’d like to work after graduation. Like the foreign-born students, US students gave the United States third place—despite a drop in the number of US students looking to move abroad after graduation.

Most Popular Video Sites

May 4th, 2009

In the early days of popular internet culture, your website was on the bleeding edge if it had something as cool as an animated Quake logo. As broadband internet service became de rigueur, though, delivering video content became increasingly feasible. Nowadays, with amateur videos far outnumbering their professional counterparts, internet video is just a fact of life. You could probably guess the most popular video site on the net, but who else reigns in the realm of video?

A recent ComScore survey let us know which sites proved to be the most popular throughout March 2009.

Hulu – 380,102 videos watched

A mere eighteen months old, Hulu is a relative newcomer with its bevy of ad-supported movies and TV shows. Already a joint venture between NBC Universal and the News Corporation, a recent partnership with ABC Enterprises means the site is supported by three of the four major broadcast networks.

Fox Interactive Media – 437,098 videos watched

As the News Corporation’s digital arm, Fox Interactive Media is not only responsible for delivering the popular broadcast network’s shows to the internet; it also oversees sites like IGN and, of course, MySpace. Now, if only Fox would stop cancelling my favorite shows…

YouTube (and other Google properties) – 5,919,530 videos watched

Yeah, that’s right—five million videos. You’re not surprised, are you? The behemoth of video sharing had a bit of a head start; YouTube went live in February 2005 and was purchased by Google, Inc. less than two years later. Add to this the fact that, unlike Hulu or Fox, YouTube is a platform for user-generated (and, in most cases, short) videos and you can see why YouTube holds over 40% of the market share of videos watched in March.

Most Popular Soda in the US

April 30th, 2009

Most Popular Soda in the US - Coca-Cola

Whether you call it pop, soda, coke or soda pop, if you’re a US citizen it’s likely that you drink soda on a fairly regular basis. In 2007, it was estimated that, on average, Americans drink three quarts of soda per week. So what is it that we’re drinking so much? Well, just take another look at that list of generic names for carbonated soft drinks and it should be pretty obvious; Coke is America’s most popular soft drink.

Coca-Cola was created in 1885 by Georgian druggist John Pemberton and was originally known as Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. You’ve probably heard that the original formula used cocaine, but may not be aware that it was also alcoholic. Of course, that had to change when Atlanta outlawed booze the next year and the resulting drink, which also contained caffeine from Kola nuts, became known as Coca-Cola. It wasn’t until 1903 that the Coca-Cola Company stopped using cocaine in the popular soft drink.

According to “Beverage Digest,” 17.2% of soda consumed in 2007 was Coke Classic. Pepsi Cola held second place with 10.7% and Diet Coke came in third with 10%.

Most Popular Republican

April 27th, 2009

Most Popular Republican - Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has been a little busy since earning second place in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries. He’s worked as a political commentator and host for both Fox and ABC, spoken at the 2008 Republican National Convention and published his seventh book. He may even be the most popular Republican in the US.

The former pastor, as well as three other prominent Republicans, was the subject of a survey by Public Policy Polling. Forty-two percent of those surveyed looked favorably on Huckabee while only thirty-four percent disapproved of him. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also received favorable votes totaling forty-two percent, but had the highest percentage of unfavorable votes of the four—forty-nine percent.

Those surveyed were also asked about former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (36% favorable/44% unfavorable) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (40% favorable/35% unfavorable).

Of course, there are more than four prominent Republicans out there. Notable exclusions include RNC Chairman Michael Steele and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

What do you think? Is Mike Huckabee America’s most popular Republican?

Most Popular Twitter Account

April 21st, 2009

Most Popular Twitter Account - Ashton Kutcher's @aplusk
Ashton Kutcher

Actor and Hollywood prankster Ashton Kutcher became the most popular dude on Twitter in a recent competition with CNN to see which Twitter account would receive their millionth follower first.

The contest may have seemed like an easy win for CNN when they purchased @cnnbrk, an account set up to tweet CNN’s breaking news and, at the time, the most followed account on the popular microblogging site. With 947,000 followers, they were ahead of Kutcher’s @aplusk account by 30,000 followers.

The contest ended on Friday, April 17th with Kutcher streaming video on the web and Anderson Cooper on CNN, each promoting their accounts. At 2:13 AM ET, Kutcher broke 1,000,000 followers and, a mere minute later, CNN humbly conceded with a congratulatory tweet.

The contest represented a win (or, if you believe some doomsayers, the end) for Twitter as well. Following the highly publicized event, Oprah Winfrey sent out her first tweet under @Oprah. As of this writing (late Sunday night), she’s already garnered over 300,000 followers. Considering @aplusk has gained only 220,000 followers since the contest ended, Oprah may have the most popular Twitter account by the end of the month.

Then again, I’ve been having trouble accessing the site today. Maybe those doomsayers were onto something after all.

Most Popular Leader in the Americas

April 20th, 2009

Most Popular Leader in the Americas - Barack Obama

Far be it from me to turn the wheels of propaganda, but this wouldn’t be The Most Popular Journal if we ignored a story like this. After a poll of 10,000 people in twenty-two Ibero-American countries, President Barack Obama has been declared the most popular leader in the Americas.

The poll shows a 70% approval rating for President Obama—a bit more than the stateside 63% approval rating he garnered after his first quarter in office. As if that isn’t enough, Canadians really tipped the scales with a phenomenal 82% approval rating for the US President, although that was before he took office.

The Latin American poll was released on the same night of Obama’s nigh unprecedented visit to Mexico City where he received glowing praise from Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Second place on that poll went to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who managed a 59% approval rating.

Of course, it’s still early in the popular President’s term—only time can tell if he’ll remain the Americas’ most popular leader in the years to come.

Most Popular iPhone Apps

April 13th, 2009

Most Popular iPhone Apps

Apple’s infamous App Store recently hit the 25,000 app milestone, but how many of those are worth downloading? Changes to the store since its debut in July of 2008 have addressed this issue, but users still complain about paying for dud apps that are quickly removed to save space. Luckily, third party market researcher ComScore is around to tell us which are the most popular iPhone apps.

Pac-Man – Namco – $5.99

Namco’s arcade classic has had new life breathed into it with this simple app. Players can not only relive the glory days of sinking a sack of quarters into their latest high score, but can also play in accelerometer mode and tilt their iPhone or iPod touch to make Pac-Man change direction. According to ComScore, Pac-Man is currently installed on 24% of the devices in question, tied for fifth place with iBowl.

iBowl – SGN – Free

This popular app, in Wii-like fashion, has players swinging their iPhones like bowling balls. Considering the phone doesn’t come with a strap, I’m not sure I’d want to try it. Nevertheless, it does have 24% penetration, so maybe it’s just me.

Facebook – Facebook, Inc. – Free

The most popular social network on the most popular phone is not the most popular app—but it’s close. The Facebook app allows users to view and send status updates, receive notifications and friend requests, view profiles and chat. It’s also tied for third place at 26% penetration.

Touch Hockey: FS5 – FlipSide5, Inc. – Free/$1.99

FlipSide5’s air hockey game features a nine-level single player game, 3D graphics and accelerometer-controlled lighting. You can even play against friends on your local WiFi network. The game comes in two flavors: standard and an ad-supported free edition. Touch Hockey: FS5 is currently installed on 26% of iPhones and iPod Touches.

Backgrounds – Stylem Media – Free

The second most popular app’s name says it all—Backgrounds is stuffed full of, well, backgrounds. With over 5,000 background wallpapers to choose from, you’re not likely to find a better source of wallpapers for the iPhone OS. Backgrounds has 27% penetration, second only to…

Most Popular iPhone App - Tap Tap Revenge

Tap Tap Revenge – Tapulous, Inc. – Free

The most popular App in the App store is the closest you can get to playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band on your iPhone and far, far less expensive. The original comes with 50 free songs while the sequel, Tap Tap Revenge 2, features over 150 downloadable songs. Players of the sequel can even play in tournaments and other contests. Aside from the original game and sequel, both of which are free, players looking for more Tap Tap Revenge can purchase Tap Tap Dance, Tap Tap Coldplay or even Nine Inch Nails Revenge ($4.99 each).

Most Popular Email Services

April 7th, 2009

World's Most Popular Email Service

If email seems a little clunky and outdated to you, there’s a good reason for that—it actually predates the internet. Originating out of MIT in the 1960s, email addresses are now as common as telephones. Someone has to provide those email addresses, though, and they’re usually doing it free of charge.

The two most popular email services are Yahoo Mail and Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail. According to a ComScore Media Metrix report published in early 2008, Yahoo had a slight lead with 256.2 million accounts to Microsoft’s 254.6 million.

Surprisingly, at least to me, Google’s Gmail service falls far behind the big two with only 91.6 million accounts. This could be attributed to the fact that Gmail, unlike Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, has been accessible by the general public for only two years. That’s considerably more than AOL who, despite their seniority in the email market, have only 48.9 million users.

Most Popular Museum

April 6th, 2009

It’s no wonder the Musée du Louvre is the most popular museum in the world. The historic Parisian fortress became the first museum accessible by even the lowest caste when the royal collection of King Louis XVI was opened to the public one year after his imprisonment during the French Revolution. Under the auspices of such rulers as Napoleon, Louis XVIII and Charles X, the Louvre’s collections only grew.

World's Most Popular Museum

The Louvre holds over 380,000 objects, including famous works such as the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. Only a fraction of them is on display at any given time in the Louvre’s eight curatorial departments—Egyptian antiquities; Near Eastern antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman; sculpture; painting; decorative arts and, most recently, Islamic art.

The most popular museum ranked first place with 8.3 million visitors when The Art Newspaper compiled its first list based on admissions data collected throughout 2007. It retained its place as the final tally for 2008 came to 8.5 million patrons.

Top 5 Most Popular MP3 Players

March 23rd, 2009

I’m sure this won’t shock or amaze you, but Apple pretty much has the MP3 player market cornered with the omnipresent iPod. Since you already know that, I’ll just get it out of the way first. You might want to skip past the first few entries on our list if you’d like to know about the most popular MP3 player without an Apple logo.

Apple iPod Touch – $229-$399

Most Popular MP3 Player - iPod Touch

“The funnest iPod ever”—a slogan that, had I heard it before making my decision, might have convinced me not to buy one. Having most of the features of the iPhone, including the accelerometer that allows the Touch to register simple movement, the most popular MP3 player is more like a PDA that happens to play music better than it does anything else. Three different models of the 2nd Generation iPod Touch are currently available, from 8 GB (the most popular) to 32 GB (which falls somewhat below the iPod Nano).

Apple iPod Classic – $249

Top 5 Most Popular MP3 Players - iPod Classic

The iPod Classic has a few intriguing features—Genius playlists and Cover Flow presentation, most notably—but its real selling point is its capacity. At 120 GB, the 6th generation of iPod Classic is a digital music player for users who think more is more and the most is even better. In fact, given no options with more memory, users have only one choice to make when purchasing an iPod Classic—black or silver.

Apple iPod Nano – $149 or $199

Most Popular MP3 Player - iPod Nano

For those users who can’t stand having some great lump of technological wizardry bulging from their pockets, the iPod Nano is a popular compromise. Already possessing all of the features of the iPod Classic in a smaller package with less memory, the 4th generation iPod Nano also has an accelerometer that, as with the Touch, allows users to view their music collection or videos using the screen in either portrait or landscape mode. The iPod Nano comes in nine different colors, the most popular being black and blue, and two different sizes—8 GB or 16 GB.

SanDisk Sansa Fuze – $79.99-$119.99

Top 5 Most Popular MP3 Players - SanDisk Sansa Fuze

See? I told you there’d be a non-Apple product eventually.

SanDisk’s Sansa Fuze may owe its popularity to its price—it is, after all, the cheapest MP3 player on the list that also plays videos. The Fuze has a few other features that make it stand out, though. It comes with a 30-day trial subscription to Rhapsody which, unlike Apple’s iTunes Store, doesn’t require users to pay per track. It also has a built-in microphone, a feature that even the vaunted iPod Touch doesn’t have. The Sansa Fuze can be purchased in 2 GB, 4 GB or 8 GB and five different colors.

Apple iPod Shuffle – $49-79

Most Popular MP3 Player - iPod Shuffle

Much controversy surrounds the 3rd generation of the smallest iPod, which could see it lose its place to the Sansa Clip once stores run out of the 2nd generation model. The first and second generation Shuffles cater to users who want to fiddle with their music as little as possible—going so far as to lack a screen with which to navigate your music selection. The third generation takes the minimalist approach one step further and offers no controls on the device itself. Instead, Shuffle owners must use a remote included as part of the headphones that come with the shuffle. This has the unfortunate effect of requiring users to purchase new Apple headphones should the included pair ever become lost or broken. While the 2nd generation Shuffle came in a plethora of colors and a couple of different memory sizes, the 4th generation is only available in 4 GB and in two different colors—black or silver.

Most Popular Actors

February 22nd, 2009

Most Popular Actor - Tom Hanks

A recent poll has allowed ordinary Americans to vote on their own favorite actors and actresses. The poll was conducted jointly between Parade magazine and Entertainment Tonight. Participants were allowed to vote on previous Academy Awards winners in various Oscar-like categories.

Tom Hanks was voted Best Actor in the poll, proving that the two-time Oscar winner is America’s most popular actor. He has won awards for his performance in Philadelphia (1999) and Forrest Gump (1994) while competing with Russel Crowe and the late Paul Newman.

Most Popular Actress - Julia Roberts

The most popular actress was Julia Roberts, who won an Oscar for Erin Brokovich in 2000. Her competitors that year were Reese Witherspoon and Jodie Foster.

America’s favorite supporting actors were Morgan Freeman, who took home an Oscar for Million Dollar Baby in 2004, and Angelina Jolie, who won her award for Girl, Interrupted (1999).

Participants were also allowed to vote on the Best Film, which turned out to be 1997’s Titanic.

Most Popular Ads of Super Bowl XLIII

February 8th, 2009

Super Bowl is about more than football, snacks and camaraderie—it’s also about watching the most extravagant ads of the year. The most popular Super Bowl ads this year, however, weren’t the most expensive to make.

Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” contest allowed aspiring filmmakers and amateur marketers to submit their own ads to, well, crash the Super Bowl. Two finalists—“Free Doritos” and “Power of the Crunch”—were chosen to be aired during the Super Bowl. “Free Doritos,” as it happens, became not only the best of nearly 2,000 “Crash the Super Bowl” submissions but also managed to be the most popular ad of Super Bowl XLIII.

“Free Doritos” features an office worker throwing his snow globe “crystal ball” at a break room vending machine in order to get free Doritos for the whole office. It was created by Joe and David Herbert of Batesville, Indiana.

While everyone seems to agree that this was the most popular ad during the Super Bowl, the number two spot is still contested.

According to YouTube’s AdBlitz program, second through fourth place are held by E*Trade’s “Singing Baby” ad, Careerbuilder.com’s list of reasons you need a new job and Pepsi Max’s “I’m Good” commercial.

USA Today, on the other hand, gives second and third place to Budweiser’s Clydesdale ads and fourth place to Bridgestone’s Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head ad.

Both lists agree that Doritos’ other user-generated add, “Power of the Crunch,” hit fifth place.

“Free Doritos” and “Power of the Crunch” aren’t the only Doritos winners that will see the light of day. In fact, the two popular ads merely kicked off Doritos’ latest campaign wherein the five best user-generated ads will all get some TV time.