At the press conference held in London on June 13, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) officially announced a list of 1930 applications for the new generic top level domain (gTLD).
During the 40 years since the launch of the Internet, there are only 22 gTLDs such as .com. The 1930 applications represent a historical change to the Internet; For the first time, Chinese gTLDs will become available and there are 67 unique applications for Chinese gTLDs.
Chinese gTLD applicants include China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) and premier Chinese corporations and brands such as China CITIC Group and Aigo Digital. Notably, a Chinese Internet company Zodiac Holdings Limited ("Zodiac") has applied for 15 top-level domain names, the single largest Chinese gTLD applicant.
James Seng, the founder of Zodiac is well known as the inventor of Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), the underlying technology that enables domain names to be in non-English such as Chinese. Founded in 2008, Zodiac has raised more than US$20 millions to invest in the new gTLDs focus on the Chinese market.
"For the half billion Chinese Internet users, Chinese domain name is easier to remember and more intuitive to use.", said James Seng who is also a veteran in ICANN over 10 years, "These new Chinese TLDs would offer Chinese companies more choice and an unique opportunity to establish their brands online in Chinese as it should be."
Zodiac has applied for a wide range of gTLDs, such as generic-use "网站" ("website") to e-commerce "网店" ("shop") and "商城" ("mall") to funky "我爱你" ("I love You"). Interestingly, Zodiac is also the only geographic TLD applicant from China applying to operate "广东" ("Guangdong").
"We are pleased to work with our Chinese partner to launch the first and only provincial and city-level TLD in China", said Eugene Li, Vice President of Zodiac. Formerly CNNIC deputy director, Eugene joined Zodiac in 2009 to bring his expertise and knowledge of the Chinese domain name industry.
"The Chinese Internet market is the fastest growing Internet market in the world and the domain name industry is yet to realize its full potential", said Lawrence Tse, General Partner of Gobi Partners, one of the investors in Zodiac. "We are excited to be working with Zodiac to change the way the Chinese population use the Internet and how Chinese businesses develop their online presence."
China is a complicated market but represent huge opportunity. Over 100,000 domain name registrations was received on the day CNNIC allows individuals to register under .CN and .中国in late May. Based in Beijing, Zodiac has been preparing for its new gTLD applications since 2008 and has established itself as important player in the inner circle of the domain name industry in China.
Since ICANN announced the acceptance of applications for new gTLDs on June 20, 2011, global stakeholders have been keeping an eye on the huge business potential. As of May 30, 2012, ICANN received US$350 million from application fees for new TLDs.
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