Given the news that Chinese web publisher Shilehui.com paid € 56,000 for the domain name 90.com at Great Domains, a domain auction venue, we wanted to review numeric domain trends. A quick look at the top ranked sites in China reveals three numeric domains which rank among the country’s sites: 56.com, 126.com and 163.com are all popular entertainment portals with impressive global traffic numbers.
A closer look at the site 56.com reveals an intuitive basis to the trend: in a region with variations in the Mandarin language, selecting a two-digit numeric domain creates universal branding that transcends regional and local variants, creating a universal brand in a diverse country. 56.com has been called the “You Tube” of China, and consistently ranks as one of the most popular entertainment sites in the country.
Given the growing demand for localized branding, ICANN is at the early stages of opening up complete support for native international domain name (IDN) extensions in a variety of languages. For now, however, many Chinese sites face the dilemma of having a URL partially in native characters but with an English extension (such as .com).
The ability to create an instant brand through a short numeric domain, such as 90.com, makes economic sense as Internet traffic continues to rise rapidly in China. A survey from the China Internet Network Information Center showed that the country had 300 million Internet users at the beginning of the year, representing an adoption rate of only 22%.
The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony began on August 8, 2008 at 8 p.m. This schedule ensured that the Games would start at the most opportune time, as the number eight is a symbol of wealth and well-being. Native Chinese pronunciations of the numbers reveal their meanings, leading to expensive auctions for lucky phone numbers, addresses and, of course, domain names with special significance. According to tradition, the number “9” signifies everlasting well-being – add a “0″, € 56,000 for good measure and you have a new universal home on the web.