The spectactular search deal Microsoft and Yahoo struck last summer doesn’t extend to all country markets. In Japan, Yahoo search will be powered by Google in the future, as announced [JP] on the Google Japan blog and by Yahoo Japan itself [JP, PDF] earlier today (Yahoo Japan‘s current search engine is provided by Yahoo in the US).
Yahoo Japan says the date the switch becomes effective has yet to be determined. Under the agreement, users of the service will be served both paid and algorithmic search results generated by Google technology on the backend (other contents, i.e. links to Yahoo Japan’s Q&A service, will remain in place). Before going for Yahoo Search Technology, Yahoo Japan actually used Google’s search engine from April 2001 to May 2004.
Bing, whose Japanese version moved out of beta two weeks ago, won’t play a role for the time being, however. Yahoo in the US already issued a statement on the Yahoo Japan-Google pact, stressing the Tokyo office made the decision to go for Google as a separate entity and that it “does not impact the global rollout and implementation of the Yahoo! search alliance with Microsoft, except in the Japanese market.”
For context, it’s worth noting that Yahoo Japan is not only Japan’s leading search engine but the country’s biggest website. Yahoo in the US actually owns just a stake of around 35% in Yahoo Japan, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange ($23 billion market cap). The majority owner (around 40%) is Tokyo-based technology juggernaut SoftBank.
The Yahoo Japan-Google deal gives both companies a massive share of the Internet search market in the world’s third largest Internet nation (100 million web users). According to market research company NetRatings (Nielsen Online Japan), Yahoo Japan boasted around 2.5 billion search queries in June this year, clearly outpacing Google (1.6 billion). Microsoft Live/MSN/Bing commanded around 144 million of the total 4.9 billion search queries from Japanese home and office computers in that month.