China's Alibaba Group, which operates Yahoo sites in the country, will drop the Yahoo brand on one of its Web sites and integrate it with Taobao.com, the group's booming online auction platform.
The local listing service on Koubei.com will be added to Taobao, a move to further strengthen the platform known as "China's eBay," an Alibaba spokesman said Monday.
The China Yahoo portal will continue to offer search and e-mail services but add a new focus on entertainment, he said. Entertainment functions such as the free music download search services offered by Google China and local rival Baidu have proved highly popular with young users.
Yahoo controls just a small portion of the online search market in China, which is dominated by Baidu and Google. Yahoo accounted for 5.6 percent of online searches in China in the second quarter this year, compared to a combined 90.7 percent for Baidu and Google, according to Chinese research outfit Analysys International. Microsoft's Bing search engine has attracted few Chinese users so far.
The listing function of Koubei will fit better as part of Taobao than as part of China Yahoo, the spokesman said. Taobao, which lets users sell items through online stores or auctions, reported a transaction volume of 80.9 billion yuan (US$11.8 billion) in the first half of 2009, nearly double the figure from one year earlier. Registered users on the Web site also doubled during that period.
Urban Chinese often buy mobile phones, clothes and make-up on Taobao, and Alibaba has added a Facebook-style social networking platform to the Web site to encourage users to spend more time and money there.
Yahoo bought a 40 percent stake in Alibaba Group in 2005. It gave Alibaba control of the Yahoo brand in China as part of that deal.
Besides Taobao, Alibaba also operates China's top business-to-business e-commerce Web site, Alibaba.com.