How is Yahoo! still relevant in Japan?

There is a common misconception to the outside world that Yahoo! Japan is still the most used search engine in Japan. This was true a decade ago but things have changed. Google (in terms of searches) had surpassed Yahoo! Japan long time ago. Google today has a market share of 75%+ (as of September 2021) while the latter holds a share of 15%+ in Japan. 

In fact in 2010, Yahoo! Japan came on terms with Google and started using the service of Google as far as search engine was concerned. Even though Yahoo! Japan is not the biggest search engine in Japan, Yahoo! is the biggest and most used web portal (not a website). 

Yahoo! Japan provides services such as Yahoo! News, weather reporting while delivering a more detailed and localised version of information to the Japanese user base. It also has a TV program table, a dedicated sports website and other features.

Y! Auction is the most popular auction site on the web in Japan, it is an interesting feature of Yahoo! that makes the users hooked up on the web portal. Yahoo! Japan provides some other important services that are used everyday by the Japanese such as Yahoo Shopping, etc.

What is the secret behind this success?

The answer lies in the ownership and backing from Softbank from the very beginning.  Business-wise, Japan really likes to do things in their own special way. It is not necessarily a better way but it is definitely unique when compared to how things are done in other parts of the world. 

There’s even a name for the phenomenon of Japanese technology developing differently than in the rest of the world: Galápagos syndrome. Masayoshi Son (Founder of Softbank) was well aware of it, so he tailored Yahoo to Japan’s very specific needs. 

Yahoo! Japan and SoftBank are gaints together

Yahoo! and SoftBank formed Yahoo! Japan in January 1996. In 2017, when Verizon Communications bought Yahoo!, the affects were not felt in Japan. They joined hands with Softbank and formed another joint venture between Softbank and what remained of Yahoo! Inc. was renamed Altaba.

In September 2018, Altaba sold all of its remaining shares in Yahoo! Japan. Yahoo! Japan acquired trademark rights to the “Yahoo!” brand in Japan from Verizon in 2021. In March 2021 Line Corporation merged with Yahoo! Japan, which has been operated by Z Holdings, a SoftBank Group subsidiary.

And that’s how, even today Yahoo! remains relevant in Japan!

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