[photopress:Yahoo.jpg,full,alignright]Yahoo in China will take on a new role in its Internet life. This is not, in itself, a bad idea as at the moment it is really not going anywhere very much. Now, Jack Ma, CEO of e-commerce company Alibaba Group, which runs Yahoo’s China operations, said it is going to become a sort of high end portal which will appeal to high-income users and enterpreneurs.
Exactly how this is to be done was not outlined by Jack Ma in an interview with the Associated Press. He suggested commercial specialization would help ward off competition from search leader Baidu and popular Web portals such as Sina.com.
Jack Ma said, ‘If Yahoo is going to win, it has to do so in a new way. What’s the point of building another Sina.com?’ He acknowledged Yahoo China was not leading the pack in any way and was, in fact, losing money although he would not give any figures.
He said company research showed its search engine attracted more affluent, business-oriented customers, while Baidu’s users were largely students. He said, ‘We don’t need to compare ourselves with Baidu in market share.’
Yahoo China will seek to capitalize on its appeal with high-income users and entrepreneurs with search results weighted more heavily in favor of corporate or business oriented Web sites. Jack Ma said, ‘We don’t want those not interested in business or making money. They can go to Baidu. Our main focus is the high-end.’
In truth, this does not sound overly-positive for the future of Yahoo in China which has been struggling since coming to the country in 1999.Yahoo in October 2005 transferred its China operations to Jack Ma’s Alibaba, which dominates China’s market for online commerce sites that link foreign buyers with Chinese wholesalers. As part of that deal, took a 40 percent stake in privately-held Alibaba, which also owns the successful auction site Taobao.com, and China’s leading online payment service, Alipay.
Last month, EBay announced it was turning over control of its Chinese auction Web site to Beijing-based Tom Online, the main competitor to Alibaba’s Taobao.com.