Domain Strategy Bulletin
Published Every Saturday

April 6, 2019 (Sat)

Are numeric domains used in corporate China?

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"One night in some empty room where no curtains ever hung. Like a miracle some golden words rolled off of someone's tongue. And after years of being nothing they're all looking right at you..." This old song fits very well with the scene in 2015/2016 when some Chinese investors pushed numeric domains onto the world stage – and attracted great attention from the west.

Number-related investment themes such as Chips were invented to wow the audience. At its peak, even seemingly random 6-digit domains were selling like hot cakes. Then the bubble burst. Now, some investors may wonder whether numeric domains have any practical use other than for trading among investors. The answer is Yes, although their use is quite limited.

The 2018 Top 100 Chinese Internet Companies Report (2018年中国互联网企业100强分析报告) provides a good sample for this study. On this list, 7 out of the 100 companies use numeric domains, as shown below.

1. provides security and performance-related software. 360 refers to 360-degree which suggests comprehensive services.

2. is a directory of products and services. No meaning is found but 58 rhymes with many Pinyin words such as Wo Fa (我发=I'll be rich).

3. is also a directory of products and services, with focus on videos and games. No meaning is found but the digits are in ascending order so that the domain is easy to remember.

4. is a game site. No meaning is found but 37 rhymes with some Pinyin words such as Shang Ji (商机=business opportunity)

5. is a game site. No meaning is found but 4399 rhymes with Ci Sheng Jiu Jiu (此生久久=may this life be a long long one).

6. is a video site, which matches its brand "6 Rooms".

7. provides SMS services for corporations. No meaning is found but 253 rhymes with some Pinyin words such as Er Wang Shang (二网商=two internet merchants)

It seems that most of the numeric domains do not have any explicit meaning. They are use probably because they are short so that consumers can remember the domains. Numeric domains do have one advantage: they are globally understood so that no translation is required. The takeaway from this study is that numeric domains can be used, but they must either have meanings or be very short.


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