Apropos my earlier post about Japan, I was struck during my time in Japan by something I had not seen in the US – print and billboard advertising from Google. Here’s a picture of a very large billboard ad plunked down in the middle of Shinagawa station, one of the biggest public transport hubs in Tokyo.
As it happens today’s New York Times has an interesting article about Google’s trailing position in the Japanese market. They need to take out those ads and billboards. As the article titled In Japan, an Odd Perch for Google: Looking Up at the Leader says in part
“…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.
In a reversal of the rivalry in the United States, Yahoo Japan dominates Japanâ€™s Web search market with 56.5 percent of all queries, according to the Internet research company, GA-Pro. Google, at 33.7 percent, is a distant second.
Unaccustomed to being second, Google is bending some of its most time-honored traditions in a renewed push into the Japanese market. Earlier this year, Googleâ€™s splash page for Japan abandoned the companyâ€™s classic spare design and added links to YouTube, Gmail and other services â€” an attempt to lure Japanese users who favor sites decorated with a cacophony of text and graphics.”
Of course, there are lots of ways in which we don’t share important Japanese sensibilities. I can’t imagine a US university declaring their Engineering building ‘The House of Creation and Imagination’ as this directory sign does .
But Google might.