The Web Goes Worldwide

The Internet was designed to be global, but it was not designed to be multilingual. This is now changing with the rise of non-Latin characters in domain names -  Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) – which are set to become the natural home for domains that serve large populations whose first language does not use Latin script.

Of the 2.6 billion internet users worldwide, more than half have first languages that use non-Latin script. For this group of over 1.3 billion web users, .com has always been a foreign address. However, website addresses can now support non-Latin characters. More than 30 countries, ranging from Russia, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, can now have country code domains in their native scripts.

During its initial launch, ICANN received a total of 116 applications for IDNs, including 73 in Chinese characters, 15 in Arabic script and 9 in Japanese. There is already strong appetite for these new domains, as evidenced in NetNames’ Internet 2020 report:

  • One-third of the companies surveyed (33%) said that they have applied – or will apply – for IDNs
  • Among those who have already started to invest in new web address endings, more than half (52%) stated that they have applied – or will apply – for IDNs
  • Businesses in the US were most likely to be interested in IDNs (42%), followed by France (31%) and Germany (29%)

How Will IDNs Make The Internet More Useable?

Many non-Latin language scripts use a much larger character-set than typical Latin scripts, which means that today’s keyboards tend to be a poor input device for computer users in many parts of the world. However, the availability of touch-screen technology and the use of mobile devices will fuel the growth of methods that cater for non-Latin scripts and IDNs will become the natural route that indigenous populations choose to navigate to the websites they want to visit.

As a result, global brands wishing to gain access to these fast-growth markets will have to adopt these localized domain names in preference to .com in order to address these consumers effectively.

Click here to download your copy of our exclusive Internet 2020 report.