Yahoo!, konbini and donuts

August 26, 2008

According to TechCrunch, Yahoo! is doing better in Japan than it is in its country of origin:

…While Yahoo seems to be treading water in the US, Yahoo Japan is sitting on top of the Japanese web industry. In fact, Yahoo Japan’s market cap at the Tokyo stock exchange is hovering at around $22 billion, compared to Yahoo’s current $27 billion. Fiscal 2007 marked the 11th consecutive year of profitability and record revenues: Yahoo Japan’s sales grew 23.3% to $2.4 billion (Yahoo in the US: $7 billion) on a year-to-year basis, with a net income of $570 million (US: $660 million).

With 46 million monthly unique visitors, according to comScore, Yahoo Japan reaches 82 percent of all Internet users in the country. That compares to 26 million monthly uniques (or a 46 percent reach) for Google in Japan. (In the U.S., the two are neck and neck, with Yahoo drawing 138 million monthly uniques, and Google 133 million). Alexa also has been ranking Yahoo Japan at No. 1 for years now.

The article explains basically that Yahoo! has simply insinuated itself into its market enough to be considered Japanese, the way Makodonorado’s is considered Japanese.

The fact than an also ran or relatively minor American company could be such a hit in Japan is nothing new. Take something as Japanese as sushi, convenience stores or konbini in Japlish. Three of the largest konbini chains in Japan started as American companies, Lawson’s and 7-Eleven, and Am/Pm. Lawson’s (pronounced Ra-sonsu) started in Ohio, and eventually died out as a brand name in the US. 7-Eleven has somewhat declined in the US but is the ichiban konbini in Japan, and 7-Eleven itself is now owned by its Japanese franchiser. Am/pm is a minor brand in the US but a significant presence in Japan.

Donuts too. Mister Donut, or Misdo, is the major Japanese donut chain that started out in Boston. Most all of the original locations in the US became Dunkin’ Donuts.  Unlike a donut shop in the US, Misdo sells fruit jellies and shrimp pastries.

So even if Yahoo! fails in America, is bought out by Microsoft and we see things like Microsoft Flickr, it can survive on another shore.

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