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Google Wins Japan's Mobile Net Battle

The company's deals with NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, Japan's two biggest wireless carriers, have cemented its lead in mobile search

At Google's (GOOG) offices in Tokyo, they talk about "John's magic." That refers to the Internet search giant's dealmaking frenzy in Japan since John Lagerling joined the company more than a year ago as manager for strategic partner development. To the astonishment of many insiders, the trim, blond 31-year-old Swede has finessed tieups with Japan's two biggest wireless carriers, giving Google's search technology top billing on the tiny screens of as many as 82 million mobile subscribers.

Even Yahoo Japan, which boasts the country's most popular Web portal, lags far behind. Fewer than 18 million mobile subscribers whose service is with wireless operator and Yahoo Japan owner Softbank own handsets that go directly to Yahoo's search page.