Yahoo China shifts to business search
While everyone is focused this morning on Bill Gates' keynote at CES, or the impending start of Macworld Expo in San Francisco, a bit of interesting news drifted eastward from China: Yahoo China will be reorganized as a business search engine.
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, which owns Yahoo China (Yahoo in turn owns 40% of Alibaba) was characteristically blunt. He conceded that rivals Baidu and Sina.com were winning the market share game: "If Yahoo is going to win, it has to do so in a new way," he said to the AP. And how might that be? "We don't want those not interested in business or making money. They can go to Baidu. Our main focus is the high-end." That ought to appeal to the healthy mercantile spirit of the Chinese entrepreneurial classes, for whom Ma is a hero.
The blogs are quiet thusfar on the move, but one reader of Search Engine Watch asks a provocative question: "Could it be a test market for future global shifts?" And that's an intriguing point. Might Yahoo, in the face of competition from regional consumer-oriented search engines, consider focusing on business elsewhere? Given the strength of Yahoo Finance and the quality of the business-oriented ad audience, it's not so far-fetched, though certainly a wildly early speculation.
For those keeping score, however, this is the second time in as many weeks that we've seen pundit types suggesting a Yahoo retreat.
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