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Veteran domain investor and reader Howard just commented that "Still not sure which I enjoy more -- your clever and thought-provoking preambles or your insightful, information-packed articles." Well, to tell you the truth, when I started writing this newsletter in February this year, I thought my articles would be too technical and therefore dry. To soften the tone, I decided to include tidbits about my life as a preamble to each article. It turned out that some readers like my apparently trivial stories, so I guess I'll have to continue this practice. Thank you Howard for your encouragement. Here's the post.

August 18, 2016 (Thu)

Be careful not to be pinched by the pins


For some unknown reason, the word "Pinyin" often reminds me of the last scene in the movie Hero where swordsman Jet Li was fatally pinched to the palace gate by thousand arrows, thus failing to assassinate the first emperor of China in 227 BC. The good news is, investing in Pinyin domain names is not a life or death decision. Some understanding of its nature is warranted, though.

Here is a myth: Chinese use Pinyin words in their daily life. If you still think it is true, please visit Baidu News at News.baidu.com and see how hard it is to find a Pinyin word in the news. The fact is, Chinese children learn Pinyin at school, but Chinese characters are actually used in their daily life.

Remember, Pinyin is the use of letters to represent Chinese characters. This helps foreigners communicate with Chinese without learning the actual language. Here are two examples to show you how Chinese characters are converted to Pinyin names.

你好 (How are you?) => Ni Hao => NiHao => Nihao
百度 (hundreds of times) => Bai Du => BaiDu => Baidu

Chinese domain investors like to classify Pinyin names according to the number of Chinese characters contained in the names. If a name has one character (= one Pinyin word), it is called 单拼 (single-pin or simply 1-pin). Similarly, you have 双拼 (double-pin or simply 2-pin), 三拼 (3-pin), 四拼 (4-pin), and so on. Here are some examples.

Pin typeDomain nameChineseMeaning
1-pinLe.comhappy
2-pinYiche.com易车easy cars
3-pinZhubaijia.com住百家live in hundred homes
4-pinYidianzixun.com一点资讯single point access to information

What Pinyin names are popular? In the post Domain names preferred by the next generation of Chinese entrepreneurs (2) dated July 16, I studied the top 300 new internet companies in China. The result reveals that Pinyin names are most preferred and among them 2-pin is most popular (46%), followed by 3-pin (41%), 1-pin (21%), and then 4-pin (11%). No 5-pin or beyond was found.

So, here are some suggestions when handling Pinyin domain names.

1. Do not venture beyond 4-pin names because there will be little potential buyers. Focus on 2-pin or 3-pin names on traditional extensions (.com and .cn). For new extensions, 1-pin may be most desirable if affordable.

2. When selling a Pinyin domain name to Chinese, always include its Chinese characters so that the buyers will understand it immediately.

3. Be aware that most Pinyin domain names are probably not fit for use outside China. This restricted demand should be considered when deciding how much to pay for a Pinyin domain name.

4. Make sure the domain name you want to buy is really a Pinyin name. Sometimes a Chinese name may be spelt using Cantonese or Taiwan Chinese. Since China is "the" market, you want to acquire genuine Pinyin domain names. If possible, ask a Chinese friend to verify for you.

Happy Pinyin investing!