Change of address

By Jacob Schindler

By some measure, East Asia appears ahead of the curve when it comes to awareness and adoption of new web domains; but a slow start for certain IDNs may cause some brands to worry about their investments in the space

It is now two years since the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) delegated the first new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Symbolically, those first four strings were all internationalised domain names (IDNs): two in Cyrillic script, one in Arabic and one in simplified Chinese characters. For the Asia-Pacific region – home to nearly half the world’s internet users and more than a billion people whose native languages use non-Latin script – the gTLD expansion promised exponential new opportunities for people to engage online in their mother tongues. For international companies – which for years have sought to tap into the region’s burgeoning middle classes – the move dramatically increased their ability to address consumers directly; but it has also raised a host of new concerns around issues such as cybersquatting.

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