According to Search Engine Lowdown, David Scacco of Google says that 28% of Google searches are for a “product name”, 9% are for a “brand name” and 5% are searches for a “company name”. “Brand” keywords also have a 8x higher ROI than generic keywords. So nearly half the time people are searching for the name of something, as opposed to generic concept type searches.
This probably applies a great deal more to mature, well known products like BMW automobiles, or Oracle database software. However, if the user is looking for the solution to a business problem they have, I would think them more likely to grasp at some simple word combinations to try to find what they are looking for. Where users would now search for iPod (the brand), a couple of years ago they might have searched for “MP3 player”.
I wonder if Google tries to draw any conclusions from repetitive multiple word searches as to what people are searching for. It might be an interesting clue to future technology and perhaps culture.