Have you seen Google trends yet? It tracks search activity and compares it to the preceding events.
I spoke about the inverse concept in the interview I did with Robin Good reBlogger: Digg-In-A-Box. The key differences are that I would track blog posts and not searches. Why? Searches are consumer oriented, but posts come directly from the source! It's obvious that consumers don't know the actual release date, but the bloggers inside the company's software team do. Their blog activity can give hints of what happening in the team. Even if the content they post doesn't specify the data – their activity could indicate something.
So Google tracks the number of searches and maps the news event that caused the surge in interest, but I'm suggesting mapping the blog activity and project that to a future event. We sometimes see predictive activity in searching, but it's only for a very widely known upcoming event: for example Christmas.
You can use reBlogger to track the activity of a particular group within a competing company. The value is huge for a business which tracks it's competition. Most company programmers blog (and have an OPML file) so I'm thinking that all we need is to find all their bloggers, group them and then count their post activity – and then generate a graph. Watch for any irregular change (a drop or a spike) and you know something is happening. It's so easy!
You can get the reBlogger 30 day free demo and install it (requires Microsoft SQL Server or SQL Server Express).
Steve Rubel does some fabulous investigations.I particularly like:
15) Blogs have caught up to newspapers
18) Digg caught up to Slashdot.
19) Interest in blogs and RSS is much higher than in podcasting and wikis