Arto Isokoski is CEO of TLD Registry, operator of two new gTLD IDNs in Chinese, .在线 (Chinese Online) and, .中文网 (Chinese Website) is featured on page 10 of the October edition of the domain industry’s IoN Magazine. Arto’s interview addresses important questions about the Chinese market and TLD Registry’s IDN’s, Dot Chinese Online and Dot Chinese Website.
See the interview below (courtesy of IoN magazine):
Q&A: Arto Isokoski is CEO of TLD Registry, operator of two new gTLD IDNs in Chinese, .在线 (Chinese Online) and, .中文网 (Chinese Website). He talked with us about the Chinese domain market.
Q: There’s a report that just came out from the United Nations on IDNs that said they were heavily localized and closely coupled to regions where that language was spoken. Has that been your experience with your IDNs?
A: Yes, I would agree with that. The value of Chinese IDNs is throughout the entire Chinese-speaking world. We’ve seen a 50-50 split on domains registered on the Chinese mainland and those outside of China. There are satellites around the mainland like Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, but then you have Chinatowns in every part of the world. We see our IDNs as being of service to Chinese language groups all over the world- and that’s what we’ve seen in our registrations. We’ve sold 53,000 so far in the four months they’ve been available.
Q: Can you explain why you explain why you chose the Chinese characters for “Chinese online” and “Chinese website” rather than straight words?
A: It’s because that reflects what Chinese users actually type into their browsers. If for example Chinese users search for “Nissan,” they’ll be directed to the Japanese version or the English version. So they have become adept at typing the phrase, “Nissan Chinese language website” into Baidu. And that phrase is our TLD. It is an easy way for non-Chinese companies to be found online. As for “online,” that’s the most commonly used term for Chinese users when they are searching for an online product or service. Because of the size of the Chinese Internet, it is so much harder to find online services that through, say, Google and the English language. “Online” adds really valuable context.
Q: In English, shorter domains are more valuable. How does that work with the Chinese language?
A: Chinese is already an incredibly compact language so we’re not all that worried about whether IDNs are short in the same way you are when you have English words with multiple letters. The big difference is in how domains are typed into a browsers. The fastest way is to talk into a phone. Chinese voice recognition is incredibly accurate, far more accurate that English. More than 70 percent of Chinese Internet users use a mobile device for at least part of their interaction with the Web. The western way of using a Qwerty keyboard- especially on a tiny mobile device- drives Chinese people insane. What our domains do is remove the need to use that Qwerty keyboard.
Q: IDNs are increasing but given the number of people online in China why isn’t its takeup and usage much, much larger?
A: These are the earliest days of IDNs in China. There has been the Chinese word for “China” online since 2004, I believe, but when Chinese IDNs were first released, you needed special browser plugins and they were awful, they didn’t work. So Internet users quickly tired of buggy software and the average user, if you ask him about Chinese IDNs, will probably tell you they don’t work. Those issues have long since been resolved but many users have a bad memory of things not working so we have been working hard on letting people know that these domains now work.
Q: Universal acceptance is a hot topic in the non-English world, why is it so important to Chinese people?
A: The greatest growth area for new Internet users are those coming from rural areas, who are comparatively poor so not everyone has a PC. Or they may have an old one that everyone shares. And they don’t speak a word of English. Somewhere today there is a Mr. Wong looking at the Internet for the first time in his life- and he looks down at his Qwerty keyboard and has no idea how to do anything. He has spoken the language and written Chinese all his life, he’s proud to be Chinese, so why can’t he type in Chinese? This is why universal acceptance is so important. This is the digital divide.-
TLD Registry took advantage of the IoN launch to initiate a new series of full-page advertisements, “The End of ASCII”. The ads are “dedicated to bringing awareness to a digital divide manifested from the lack of universal access.” Here are the ads: