Yahoo Big as Ever in Japan

March 10, 2009

Yahoo’s island of strength in Japan looks as impregnable as ever.

In January, Yahoo increased the number of searches performed on its Japanese sites by 13 percent year-over-year, and continued to hold the top spot with a 51.3 percent share of searches conducted in Japan, according to market research firm comScore.

Google, which is the No.1 search firm in the U.S. by a long shot, saw its search share in Japan slip to 38.2 percent, from 39 percent in September. Total searches on Google sites in Japan increased 5 percent year-over-year in January.

Yahoo’s star property in the land of the rising sun is actually a 34 percent stake in a joint venture with Softbank. The Japanese partnership is one of several that Yahoo has forged overseas, such as its deal with China’s Alibaba Group.

Some analysts speculate that Yahoo may unload some of these investments as it seeks to fill its coffers with cash and cut costs amid the industry-wide advertising slump.

Then again, Yahoo’s new CEO Carol Bartz has said that international growth is critical for Yahoo. And judging by the latest market share figures, Yahoo Japan knows a thing or two about how to succeed in international markets.

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