The location will be charged with developing search engine software that is easier for the Japanese to use. The center is also expected to develop content and new services for Japan, rather than simply localize the company's English-language resources.
I have been expecting something like this for several months. And don't be surprised if you see them do the same in China, Russia and an Arabian country later this year. Google are very much aware that the Earth is multicultural.
Definitely a smart move. Japan is so different in terms of thinking that they type in for example: "new music recommends" and their US counterpart might type in something to the effect of "top new music" or "new music reviews".
Ok maybe that example sucked because they usually search via kanji but my point is they have different terms than us when looking for the exact same thing which may or may not have been obvious to many.
Many Japanese translation services exist and for good reason. J/E Translation software does such a literal translation that ideas and thoughts and not conveyed and it's a joke. I once tried translating a legal document based on a Japanese attempt to translate it initially and couldn't even fathom of what was trying to be said until I saw the original Japanese.
they usually search via kanji but my point is they have different terms than us when looking for the exact same thing which may or may not have been obvious to many.
Almost for the first part, right on for the second. Japanese search terms tend to hiragana or kanji if the user is looking for a local product, but if it's something foreign or something we're selling more than likely the search term will be in katagana - the japanese phonetic alphebet used for foreign terms. And if you have doubts about that I can always ask my wife again : ) As for anything in 'romaji' (roman alphabet) - hehe - search terms they use sure can look odd from our point of view. English tends to be 'appropriated' more than learned by many Japanese, so things get strange - 'tasty everyday eats' for example, LOL. My wife laughs equally at my Japanese, though : P
Just returned from SES - Tokyo. I only ran into a couple of other WebmasterWorld members there and the show was much smaller than a normal SES, maybe the size of SES 3 or 4 years ago and there were only 8 exhibitors. Dr. Wayne Rosing from Google gave the keynote address and he made the announcement then about the Japan labs project and the expansion of Google's offices.
Seriously jet lagged so I'll post more or sticky me if you have any questions.