A decade ago, internet users who grew up with Web 1.0 bid a fond farewell to Sunset Strip, Rodeo Drive, Colosseum, and other “neighborhoods” on web-hosting service GeoCities, when Yahoo announced it was shutting the main site down. Now Japanese GeoCities fans will face the same fate.
Yahoo Japan announced today (Oct. 1) that it will shut down (link in Japanese) its GeoCities service in March 2019, 22 years after its launch. The company said in a statement that it was hard to encapsulate in one word the reason for the shut down, but that profitability and technological issues were primary factors. It added that it was full of “regret” for the fate of the immense amount of information that would be lost as a result of the service’s closure.
Japan is the only country where the web hosting service remained in operation. Like the main GeoCities, the Japanese service was also organized around different themed neighborhoods. For example, websites in the Silicon Valley neighborhood were tech-focused, while those in Berkeley focused on education.
The fact that GeoCities survived in Japan for so long speaks to the country’s idiosyncratic nature online. Despite the fact that Yahoo—which purchased GeoCities in 1999 for almost $4 billion at the peak of the dot.com boom—has fallen into irrelevance in much of the world, the company continues to be the dominant news portal in Japan. It still commands a sizeable market share in search, though it has steadily ceded its position to Google over the years.
Anyone nostalgic for the old days of web counters, scrolling marquees, flashing text, and broken HTML has until March to get their last fill of the internet of yore.