Is Yahoo! Japan Switching To Google Search?

Wall Street Journal’s blog All Things Digital(ATD) reported that Yahoo! Japan is going to announce that they will use Google Search as its search backend, switching from their customized Yahoo! Search Technology(YST).

At this point, there are no Japanese media reported this rumour, except Bloomberg Japanese [J] which just refers All Things Digital.

Until more info arrives, here we Asiajin add some related info ATD missed here.

If Google (GOOG) and Yahoo Japan join together, the pair will control almost the entire market share of search in the Japanese market.

On PC, it is true. However, on mobile search the No.1 cellphone carrier NTT Docomo, boasts 50% market-share, recently switched their mobile search engine from Google Mobile Search to Goo Mobile Search in May. Goo is a long running Japanese original search engine run by another NTT group company.

As mobile web is fairly big and better paved for money leviers in Japan, it is not ignorable.

No. 2 KDDI au is using Google and No.3 Softbank Mobile using (of course) Yahoo! Japan so those two are likely to use Google if the rumour is true.

Coincidentally, Bing just entered the Japan market with its branded search, but it has only a small share there.

Bing Japan just removed “Beta” this month. Their search market share is around few percent.

And, ironically, Yahoo Japan’s Inoue said in an interview in January with a Japanese news organization that he was not impressed with some other Google services, such as its Street View mapping service.

Check our article to cover Inoue’s comments. “Google Is Nothing Special” Yahoo! Japan President Brags Their Supremacy

if Yahoo Japan and Google do buddy up, it’s clear that Microsoft will likely try to block the deal from gaining regulatory approval in Japan, much in the same way it did successfully when Google tried to enter into a deal with Yahoo in the U.S. in 2008.

Microsoft K.K. (will be renamed with “Microsoft Japan” next year) would try. But in Japan, antitrust law and its enforcement are not so strong as the one in USA. Japanese politics are also rather indifferent to the internet industry (when you comparing with manufacturing like cars and electronics).

Yahoo! Japan, which traffic is ranked at 12th in the world only with its activities inside Japan (Alexa), is big enough to keep to maintain their YST variant by their size of company, however, Microsoft-US Yahoo! deal takes away development power from US side of their partner and that may make Inoue, and Masayoshi Son (Softbank CEO) reconsider that keeping Japanese-only search engine only for Japanese market by themselves will be burden, if the rumour is true. (We still haven’t heard any other news besides the original ATD one yet)

[Update] Nikkei also covered at 10:29 (JST). But no new things, no source.

[Update] Google announces the alliance on their official Japanese blog.

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@akky is one of the first Japanese pro-bloggers [J]. He also leads Asiajin, writes a tech column on The Japan Times, consults for some foreign companies interested in Japanese web market. (please inquire to akimoto on gmail.com).

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Akky Akimoto

@akky is one of the first Japanese pro-bloggers [J]. He also leads Asiajin, writes a tech column on The Japan Times, consults for some foreign companies interested in Japanese web market. (please inquire to akimoto on gmail.com).

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