No there isn’t going to be a landrush for Internationalized Domains

Business by on October 31, 2009 at 11:52 pm

The media[WSJ] really[Independent] has this wrong.

The news in question was ICANN’s announcement (PDF) of internationalized top level domains.

Consider this quote from the AP:

Since their creation in the 1980s, domain names have been limited to the 26 characters in the Latin alphabet used in English - A-Z - as well as 10 numerals and the hyphen.

or this breathless prediction from Wired:

Domain-name speculators will race to buy as many names as they can in languages they don’t understand in order to create more contentless “landing” pages to make money from people who accidentally type that URL into a browser address bar.

Except that ICANN hasn’t done anything to allow new registrations. They are just allowing existing top level domain endings (.com, .net, .org) to be typed differently. Anyone could register internationalized domain names (IDNs) on the .com TLD since 2000. However, for a long-time no major browsers supported IDNs. The real land-rush happened around 2007 when IE7 became the first major browser to support IDNs by default and domainers rushed to purchase IDNs.

The announcement from ICANN only pertains to the bit after the dot. Imagine how awkward it is for a user in Japan to type their intended domain in katakana and then switch to an ascii script to add “.com” to the end. All that ICANN is saying is that it will allow the creation of equivalent TLDs in scripts other than ascii. However, these TLDs will simply be aliases of existing TLDs.

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