It looks like the uneasy alliance just got a whole lot uneasier, as Yahoo Japan choose to adopt Google search over their compatriots Bing.
Whilst not a market that is generally discussed on these shores, suddenly Japanese search takes on a whole new perspective as Yahoo opt for Google search. Microsoft reacted, somewhat unsurprisingly, with anger claiming that it would give Google “virtually 100 percent of all searches in Japan.” [Source: PC World | Microsoft Cries Foul Over Google Tie-up With Yahoo Japan].
Yahoo controls a solid 88.8% share in the market in Japan so are far and away the dominant search engine in the region [source: comScore – although you may want to read our earlier post first – comScore Admit Gaffe with Yahoo Traffic Statistics]. So Microsoft’s angst is understandable. Whilst the Bing tie-in doesn’t stretch to this market, they would perhaps be hoping for a little solidarity in their supposed joint fight against Google.
So is this a small crack already in the YaBing merger? Well it certainly won’t help, but as Yahoo doesn’t actually have a controlling stake of their Japanese wing (see PC World article), it is perhaps forgivable. The anticompetitive argument seems reasonable, particularly in light of previous merger attempts by the two elsewhere. However, when you’ve got 88.8% of the market sewn up already, it would be a challenge to incorporate any search engine without triggering some kind of monopoly legislation.
Of course this will all be played down and shouldn’t have a major bearing on the relationship between Yahoo and Bing here or in the U.S. Although I have a funny feeling that I’ll be referencing this post in months to come when the search alliance faces far tougher tests. Nevertheless, not a good start.