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Chinese Domain Market Newsletter

We heard a loud noise on the way back home after our morning walk. It came from the house at the corner of our street. Its security alarm system had gone off but, unfortunately, no one went to the house to see if there's any problem. Because security systems give false alarms often, neighbors don't even bother to go outside their house and check. I realized this fact a few years ago and so changed my strategy. Instead of relying on a security system, I invested in building close relationships with our immediate neighbors so that they do care about our safety, and vice versa. Here's the post.

September 29, 2016 (Thu)

Would Chinese companies abandon acronym for Pinyin domain names?


TechCrunch recently published an interesting story about American mobile game developer SGN changing its name to Jam City, with corresponding change in their corporate website as well. SGN.com now redirects to JamCity.com. This means they have gone from a short 3-letter acronym to a much longer 7-letter descriptive name. One of the reasons mentioned for the change is the confusion in spelling the name. They found many people not being able to tell whether it is SGN or GSN (SGN stands for Social Gaming Network, the original company name).

That got me thinking because Chinese companies love acronym domain names. Do Chinese have the same spelling confusion in acronym domain names? To understand this issue, we need to look at how names are remembered by Chinese consumers. I think most Chinese consumers remember company and product names by their Chinese names written in Chinese characters.

For example, ecommerce giant Jing Dong is remembered by Chinese consumers as 京东 (literally meaning east side of capital). The company owns Jingdong.com but chooses to use JD.com as its corporate website. The Chinese name is prominently displayed on its corporate website. (Jingdong.com redirects to JD.com.) When Chinese consumers want to visit Jing Dong, they do a mental translation in their mind like this:

京东 -> Jing Dong -> JD.com

Because of this mental translation habit, the meaning of JD is always retained so there is little chance for spelling confusion as shown in the SGN case. When a Chinese company upgrades to an acronym domain name, Chinese consumers can follow quite easily. For example, if the top Chinese search engine decides to upgrade from Baidu.com to BD.com one day, I don't see any difficulty for Chinese consumers to remember the new domain name.

Therefore, Chinese companies will continue to favor acronym domain names over longer Pinyin spellings. Remember, Chinese companies are apparently obsessed with super short domain names, as evidenced in Le TV's $10m upgrade from LeTV.com to Le.com, which is not needed but highly prestigious.