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When I went to study at a college in the US, some American students invited me to a restaurant. Someone ordered fried chicken and started eating it with his hands. When he was about to finish, he licked his fingers and said it's finger-licking good. What a shock! You see, we Chinese think it's dirty to lick our fingers. Here's the post.

June 15, 2016 (Wed)

What Alibaba is telling us about 4-pin domain names


Alibaba should understand domain names very well. They own the largest domain registrar (Aliyun) in China. They are keen at brand protection and suing to reclaim domain names. When they start a new venture, I'm sure they would spend considerable amount of time to acquire the best domain name for it. Yet, they just did something that's a bit hard to understand.

The company just launched a new service called 码上放心 (meaning "to feel relieved with help of code"). The service manages data for pharmaceutical companies in order to track their products throughout their product life cycle and provides safety assurance to consumers. This brand may also be a play on the phrase 马上放心 which sounds the same and means "to feel relieved immediately."

The domain name they have chosen is MaShangFangXin.com, an exact match of their Chinese name. They have also secured MaShangFangXin.cn and MaShangFangXin.net, all showing the exact contents. The three domain names were all registered on May 10, 2016, suggesting that Alibaba did not acquire the names from any third party but hand registered them.

At 14 characters, the 4-pin MaShangFangXin is too long. Not all 4-pins are bad. The name Alibaba is a good example. It's 4-pin but has only 7 characters so is very easy to remember. Why did the company settle on a long domain name? I can think of two reasons.

The first reason is that the company may think MaShangFangXin.com is just fine. The service appears not to be consumer facing but is catering only to corporate clients. In this case, business users are not that demanding as consumers. The second reason is that the company may think the service is not a major service, so does not require the best domain name. This is suggested in the brand name not following Alibaba's major services of starting with "Ali", such as Alisports and Aliyun.

Regardless of the reasons, I still think the company should protect the future of the brand by acquiring also MSFX.com and MSFX.cn in case MaShangFangXin becomes a major consumer brand one day. These two acronym domain name are much shorter to remember. Currently MSFX.com is a very basic site operating in the Philippines, and MSFX.cn is not used.

Maybe I'm not the only one thinking MSFX.com and MSFX.cn have great potential. A news source today reported that changes happened to MSFX.com on June 13 and MSFX.cn on June 12, suggesting that maybe some shrew investor sensed opportunity and acquired the domain names.

What I see here is that long 4-pins creates upgrade opportunity for matching 4L .com and .cn domain names. If you own a 4L domain name and can read Chinese, you can enter the name into Baidu search and check the result to see if any company is already using its matching 4-pin name.

Lastly, will the voice input trend eliminate acronym domain names? I doubt it, because we'll still be using word of mouth in writing for a long long time, and short names are good for word of mouth.