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News from NET and COM '99

  • Excite Japan GM Talks Strategy in Fierce Portal Mart
  • February 11, 1999 (TOKYO) — Excite Japan Co., Ltd., a portal site operator, appointed Yukihiro Yamamura, former president of DoubleClick Japan Inc., as general manager as of Jan. 4.
    Since its establishment in October 1997, Excite had no full-time executive. However, Yamamura, with his expertise in Internet business at DoubleClick Japan, now leads Excite Japan.

    BizTech spoke recently with Yamamura and asked about Excite‘s future strategies in the highly competitive portal site market, where search site operators, providers and software houses are all competing with each other.

    BizTech: What made you decide to join Excite from DoubleClick?

    Yamamura: When I was just about beginning to enjoy the Internet business at DoubleClick, I was asked to go back to Trans Cosmos Inc. again (to which I belonged at that time). DoubleClick is a joint venture business formed in August 1997 by four companies, including Trans Cosmos.

    I was approached by Excite Japan just about when I was having a hard time making up my mind about Trans Cosmos. That helped me decide to stay in the Internet business. After all, the Internet business is an interesting challenge.

    BizTech: “Yahoo!” and “goo” appear to be well ahead in the struggle to drive users to portal sites. What are your strategies in your pursuit of users?

    Yamamura: We are determined to set out a tough line in differentiating our search engine itself from that of other competitors. For that purpose, we also aim to introduce into Excite, six months from now, the search engine provided by the Excite U.S. portal site (http://www.excite.com/).

    The new search engine is designed to display not only the Web sites that include a key word, but also basic information related to that key word. For example, if the key word represents a name of a resort area, the search results will show map data as well as means of transportation; and when it represents a team name of professional sports, a news flash shows up on the score of a game that team has played.

    Our aim is to make it possible for users to find information they need in as few pages as possible. The basic information related to the key word placed on top of the page will meet users’ search aims. A certain survey result showed that about 80 percent of the U.S. Excite users successfully accessed the required information by just looking at the first page.

    On the other hand, the overall reduced page view will put Excite at a disadvantage in its business concerning advertising rates.

    However, we have no intention of contriving a system that earns page views by making users go into page after page to obtain a single source of information they want.

    What counts is the number of users who actually use the service. According to the survey independently conducted by Excite Japan, we currently have about 900,000 users per month. We hope to increase that number to 2 million users within 1999.

    BizTech: Will you enter into talks with various businesses to include Excite on the startup page of a Web browser?

    Yamamura: Excite has already been registered to be on the startup of a browser in personal computers sold by Dell Computer Corp. We will approach PC makers, software houses as well as site providers to have Excite as a portal site.

    I see PC makers and services providers are stepping up their efforts to independently run their own portal site. However, I believe they have already recognized that the portal site creation business is far costlier than one can imagine. I believe this is where Excite can find an opportunity to penetrate the market.

    BizTech: There was an announcement that @Home Network, a leading CATV Internet access service in the United States, is to buy Excite U.S. Will there be any effect on Excite Japan?

    Yamamura: I do not expect any immediate effects on Excite Japan since @Home does not have a base in Japan. Its effects may start to appear in three years from now at the earliest as far as Internet connection via CATV in Japan is concerned.

    One of the benefits in joining hands with @Home is that it allows @Home’s nearly 60 million users to use Excite as their portal site. Furthermore, it allows Excite services to expand content such as video, by taking advantage of CATV’s high-speed access.

    (BizTech News Dept.)

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