TOKYO -- Google of the U.S. overtook Yahoo Japan as the most crowded PC portal in Japan, according to the Nikkei's 2014 domestic market share rankings, released Saturday. Of 100 product and service categories, nine had new market leaders. Meanwhile, the top three players in most categories continued to gobble up more combined market share.
The number of Google's average monthly users among personal computer owners increased 4.4 percentage points from the previous year to 29.1%, topping rival Yahoo Japan by 1.8 percentage points.
Google's growth is largely attributable to its focus on business users through applications like Gmail, Google Maps and Google Calendar. The fact that more Internet surfers are using Google's Chrome browser also helped.
Yahoo Japan, which had long been Japan's most popular PC portal, has been shifting its main focus from the PC to the smartphone.
Robust sales of Pixus home inkjet printers, which feature wireless connectivity to smartphones and digital cameras, put Canon atop the ink-jet printer category with a market share of 44.7%, 4.4 percentage points higher than rival Seiko Epson.
Imabari Shipbuilding, No. 2 in its market in 2014, can now say it's No. 1, largely thanks to the acquisition of No. 5 Koyo Dockyard in 2013. The deal enabled Imabari to raise its output as measured by tonnage. The company now controls 30.7% of Japan's shipbuilding market, up 13.3 percentage points. It even has a double-digit lead over No. 2 Japan Marine United, the former No. 1 player.
In the generic medicine category, Nichi-Iko Pharmaceutical rose to first place at 12.9%, edging Sawai Pharmaceutical by 0.1 of a percentage point. Nichi-Iko rode its allergy remedies to victory.
The survey also shows that oligopolies are becoming entrenched. Of the 100 markets covered, 60 saw the combined share of the top three players increase, up from 58 in 2013. The top three players in the department store market increased their combined share by 1.6 percentage points. In the domestic travel market, the top three agencies got 1.4 percentage points stronger. The top three whiskey makers grabbed another 2.8 percentage points of their market. And the top three shampoo and conditioner makers grabbed another 1.2 percentage points of their market.
While many companies suffered from the negative impact of the consumption tax hike in April 2014 and other changing market conditions, the top players in respective markets apparently used brand strength and product development prowess to expand their presence. But the size of 49 of the markets receded from 2013.
The top three department stores increased the combined share of their market to 45.2%. With stores in prime locations, they successfully tapped Chinese and other foreign tourists' penchant for spending. The top three hotel chains, meanwhile, raised their combined share by 0.8 of a percentage point to 21%.