Domain name stats and speculation of introduction to IDN
At the end of 2008, there were 177 million registered TLD domain names. Of the 240 cc TLDs there were 71.1 million registrations with 65% of them from only 10 ccTLDs according to Verisign.
Of the top ten ccTLDs .cn, .de, .uk, .nl, .eu, .ar, .it, .ar, .br, .us and .au only 3 of the cc TLDs are predominantly non English speaking/writing countries. With the introduction of IDN’s English will be the minority language of the Internet. Most certainly in the Asia Pacific region English will be a minority language.
No surprises that .com is the largest populated general Top level Domain Name. But it will be interesting to see statistics of how many .com sites are written in a non English language as .com is seen as the universal domain name for web sites as opposed to a solely a domain name for American companies.
I forecast several small issues when the introduction of multilingualism occurs which will bring new meaning to “a borderless world”.
As we experienced in New Zealand when we introduced Māori characters in computers and the required Unicode to replace insufficient ASCII, there was an issue of keyboards, standards of code and spell checkers as Māori began to populate. It took maybe a year for this not to be an issue. This was assisted with Microsoft issuing a free Māori keyboard and Te Ngutu Kura keyboard also being made freely available.
Internationally we will see the small issue of foreign speakers trying to access IDN web sites with an English keyboard and the content of such sites will increasingly go from being English to non English languages and translations getting lost via automatic translation services.
Perhaps the biggest issue will be for Trade Mark owners securing their names and rights in foreign languages and possible disputes over an IDN character and a Trade Mark character.