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Yahoo Japan swallows up SoftBank's eService to boost mobile arm

Yahoo Japan is ready to launch its own mobile Internet service after agreeing to buy eAccess from its parent company SoftBank.

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The deal, which is worth 324 billion yen [£1.91 billion], allows the country’s largest Internet portal to launch the Y!mobile service that will offer a simplified pricing structure to attempt to lure in over 20 million users.

eAccess will complete a pre-planned merger with Willcom, another SoftBank subsidiary and wireless provider, before Yahoo Japan’s purchase is completed on 2 June and eAccess will bring 10 million users to the party.

One of the major reasons for the purchase is to give Yahoo Japan control over its own network and not to have to rely on a network offered by SoftBank or another provider.

"We want 10 million [additional users], and we won't reach that unless we have control over our own handsets, service plans and sales channels, so we're launching this as a standard mobile operator," Yahoo Japan president Manabu Miyasaka told a news conference.

SoftBank, the company at the centre of the deal, currently owns 42 per cent of Yahoo Japan as well as US wireless carrier Sprint and Chinese marketplace Alibaba. It’s speculated that this is part of a wider restructuring to enable it try to take over T-Mobile US.

The hope for Yahoo Japan is that it can take advantage of the country’s growing thirst for mobile devices and Miyasaka stated that he expects the average Japanese consumer to have six devices each and that connectivity is key to exploiting this growth.

"None of these new devices will mean anything without connectivity. The telecom industry is extremely attractive to us,” Miyasaka added.

It’s hoped that Y!mobile will give it the chance to drive new users to its Yahoo sites in Japan that have been losing out to the likes of Amazon and Rakuten in recent times. On the other side of the coin, Miyasaka is under no illusions as to how competitive the telecoms market is and that differentiating itself from the competition is key.

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"If we do the same kind of things, we will get stabbed," he said. "We have to do something different."