On Wednesday CNNIC released a detailed report on Internet usage that showed a 10.5% increase in domain registrations between January 2015 and July 2015 and total .CN registrations reaching 12.2 million, up from 11.0 million.
However, not mentioned in the press releases and headlines was the churn on China’s IDN .中国 extension. The total number registered dropped 7% while almost every other TLD grew market share. The exception was .INFO which saw two price increases in the last two years.
The purpose of the report was not exclusive to domain names. The scope was to cover all Internet development and included information on user demographics, rural Internet usage, types of Internet connections, website development and IP address usage. Website development and hosting in China is traditionally costlier than in the West, and reach 3.67 million websites hosted within China, a 6.6% increase over six months.
Some impressive numbers were included, such as the total number of Internet users in China reaching 668 million. They also show that Internet penetration has almost reached 50%, moving up 0.9% to 48.8%. For comparison, the United states claims 266 million users and 84% penetration.
There could have been a number of reasons for the change. Was it a shift of capital into more liquid TLDs like .COM and all the new GTLDs? Was it too much to fight against the tradition of the incumbent? In a country where Western brands and products command a huge premium, are English character TLDs seen as a premium or Western style?
While I don’t think this will slow down ICANN’s global rollout of IDN version of existing TLDs, it could certainly make for-profit registry operators of new IDN GTLDs think twice.