A new Google Japan homepage was released yesterday with tabs to popular Google features, such as Image Search, YouTube, Picasa, Blogger, and more.
Although Google has regional localized homepages that look different and behave in different ways than Google.com does, this seems to be a step in a different direction from Universal Search by dividing the content before the user even searches. But, this may not be what it seems.
I have yet to find any information stating that Universal Search was accepted by Google Japan, as each regional area seems to have the option to use it or not. If there isn’t Universal Search in place, then this could be a new initiative to make the Japanese public aware of Google’s services. This would make sense, as Yahoo! Japan actually had more search market share than Google Japan did in July, 2007. Even though they increased their share significantly from 2006 to 2007, Google needed to change their tactics to increase market share.
Rightfully so. Yahoo! Japan was a powerhouse, being worth an estimated $29 billion. With the recent Microsoft offer to buy and subsequent refusal by Yahoo!, it was rumored that Yahoo! Japan could purchase Yahoo!, although this is unlikely with Microsoft’s capital clout. But Yahoo! Japan has proven it can stand up to the GooGiant, which is exactly what Yahoo! needs right now.
Google Japan’s tabs could be the answer they’ve been looking for to overcome Yahoo! Japan. If Google Japan does get on top, you can forget your yin-yang balance of power.