Random Musing

Analysis of the IDN new gTLD applications

There are a lot of excitement since ICANN has reveal the list of 1930 applications for new gTLD yesterday at an event in London yesterday.

Even some of the strongest opponents of the ICANN new gTLDs program have acknowledge the there is a case to open up new gTLD for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). So I am going to focus and analysis about the IDN applicants.

1) There are 116 applications for IDN , which is less than the 10% estimate I have prior. But what’s surprising is the numbers for Chinese new gTLDs, 73 applications1.

The simple conclusion is that most people are still not certain of the future of IDN TLDs but if it is successful, it is likely to be in Chinese gTLDs.

2) The next two languages are 15 Arabic and 9 Japanese new gTLDs. But what is interesting is the lack of Korean, only 3 applications. Of the 3, only one comes from Korea (Samsung).

This is not to say Korean don’t use IDN as KISA has obtained “.한국” via IDN ccTLD Fast Track. What I learn is that the Korean government has discourage Korean companies to participate in new gTLD but to garner around .KR and .한국 for local usages.

Commercially, there is also less interest in domain names as Korean Internet market has predominately used to Keywords and Search Engine as the mean for navigation.

3) Verisign applied for the 12 IDNs in different “transliteration” of COM (Thai, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Korean) and NET (Hindi, Simplified Chinese, Korean).

However, not all seem to be transliteration. Specifically, “.点看” altho may sound like “dot com”, but has a literal meaning of “click and see” in Chinese. For example, I could have “汽车.点看” which when you pronounce in Chinese (inclusive of the .), “car, click and see”.

Another example is “.大拿” that is Verisign say to be the transliteration of “.NET” (it is a stretch) has a very interesting local Beijing phrase for “Number One” or “Best”. I applaud Verisign for having very creative Chinese staffs :-)

4) Of the 73 Chinese new gTLD, about half of them comes from Greater China but the other half comes from non-Chinese companies.

While there is no rules to forbid any organization to apply for any languages, and there are certainly many Chinese (nearly 50m) that is not within Greater China, the primary market for Chinese domain names I guess would still be in China.

Given the complexity of dealing with Chinese market as well as the government, I am not sure how many of these companies are ready to take on China. Personally, I have been in and out of China for more than 10 years and based in Beijing for the last 4 years in preparation for new gTLD. My experience is that China is not for the weak hearted.

Nevertheless, I hope they are prepared because there are some really good names which would be sad if it goes to waste.

5) Due to ICANN does not allow single-characters (see previous article on the background), there are applicants whose intention is to apply for “网” (web) going for “网站” (website) and “店” (shop) going for “网店” (web-shop) instead. Both of these are going into contention with more than one applicant.2

6) Speaking about contention, there is a “non-contention” between “政务” (government affairs) and “政府” (government). These are not classified as the same at this moment as the string is obviously different but unfortunately the meaning is similar.

What makes this “non-contention” challenging is that the first is applied by China and the latter is applied by Taiwan. ICANN is going difficult times resolving these.

7) Also on contention, we saw two Chinese Internet Giants, Sina and Tencent both applying for .weibo and .微薄 (the Chinese name for Twitter-like services). Both Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo are having a cut throat competition in China right now. Sina Weibo claims 300m users and Tencent Weibo claims 400m users.

The fight for auction over this name is going to be interesting to watch.

8) The single largest gTLDs applicant based in China is Zodiac with 15 applications. This is followed by Hu Yi (a China-based registrar) with 4 applications. Surprisingly, the largest registrar in China HiChina has made only one application.

9) Some of the “funny” gTLD in Chinese includes: “点看“ (click and see), “大拿” (Best), “八卦” (Gossip) and “我爱你” (I love you).

These are what makes this domain names going to be much more interest industry moving forward. I hope to see more of these!

1 There is one application for 普利司通 for Bridgestone which interestingly comes from Japan. But Bridgestone in Japanese is ブリヂストン so I assumed the intention should be for Chinese IDN.

2 Disclosure: Zodiac is applying for both of them and is in contention with Namesphere.

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