chinesemobinode.jpgCall it cultural hegemony, call it digital monopoly. Why can there only be 26 roman characters variant in a domain name?

Well, not anymore. It’s now possible for every language in this world to have domain names of their own language, thanks to Internationalized Domain Name (IDN). Mobinode probably can have one called 动点博客.com (Mobinode in Chinese, obviously)

Yes, it’s doable technologically, but is it feasible economically? Traditionally, Chinese domains have resorted to numbers, pinyin or real simple-sounding English words as their domain name of choice. This is simply because it’s too risky to get the names wrong. Not that anyone will spell “Google” as “Gogle” or “Googe”, but having 谷歌.com definitely helps.

Of course, there is the issue of compatibility. Not all browsers supports IDN, not yet at least. And there is also no support by the email servers. If someone wants to email a Chinese domain, he or she probably needs to send the mail to someone@动点博客.com. Not to mention that using solely Chinese will alienate not Chinese-speakers, however small that group might be.

Chinese domain will see it’s gold rush. Strategic Chinese names have already been bought up by domainers. If www.sex.com can fetch a rumoured hefty sum of USD14 million, why can’t www.性.com(sex.com) or www.性.cn(sex.cn) get RMB 14 million? Of course to predict such a wide adoption is daring. However,a nation that hasn’t been the best at using English might see it as a long-awaited gift. However, since the introduction of IDN of about two years ago, there hasn’t been a wide usage of IDN among commercial sites. It is interesting to note that all valuable Chinese domain names are long snapped up by domainers.

When will we see Chinese IDN take it’s well-deserved place? Hopefully soon.