This is a fascinating read, with a lot of insight:
Japan is one of a few major countries Google has yet to conquer. The Web giant still trails far behind Yahoo Japan, the front-runner here, operated by the Japanese telecommunications giant Softbank.
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Google’s dogged interest in Japan has partly to do with sheer size. Japan is one of the world’s most wired countries, with more than 90 million regular Internet users — of which three-quarters use fast broadband connections and two-thirds also log in from cellphones.
And despite a sluggish economy, Japan’s 6.6 trillion yen ($77 billion) advertising market remains the world’s second-largest, one that an increasingly global advertising force like Google cannot afford to ignore.
This article attempts two points:
1) Internet consumption is different in Japan than in the U.S.
How? Citing the number of users and the number of advertising dollars is not useful without context.
2) Yahoo! is a better platform for people with these usage patterns than Google.
Mmmm, okay. May I again ask how? The article doesn't even take a stab at that one, except to talk about Google adding YouTube to its home page.
Something tells me Google knows the real reason why they are second fiddle in Japan, but they are not sharing.