What are IDNs and Why Should I Care?

Why should you be interested? Try to think of your favorite website. Now think of how easy it is for you to access that site, using your a standard keyboard. Simple, right? The truth is, if you asked anyone outside of the Western world these same questions, you would get far different answers, especially if you asked anyone who communicated in a language that does not include traditional roman characters.

What are IDNs? Why do they matter? You may have heard about internationalized domain names (IDNs), they are domain names that include characters used in the local languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet. An IDN can contain roman letters or more importantly can be comprised of characters from non-roman scripts such as Arabic or Chinese.

As you can see in the graph, Arabic and Chinese internet usage has grown faster than any language set, and they do not use roman characters. America is already saturated with internet users, and .com addresses. As such, the newest frontier becomes these foreign countries with huge growth rates for internet use.  Until recently, anyone who wanted to access the internet had to type in a website address in roman characters regardless of their location in the world or the language they spoke. Now imagine how your daily routine might be a little more confusing if you had to type in the address to your favorite site in Chinese characters. IDNs are changing this limited way of accessing the internet. Through a puny code system which creates a code using roman characters for any languages characters, everyone can now type in domain names in their own language and access the internet.

How does it all come together? The introduction of IDNs is creating a change and amazing opportunity unlike any seen since the original introduction of the internet. There is a virtual land rush on for these new domain names in foreign characters. Bank of America purchased for 3 million dollars back in 2000. Imagine what that could sell for in 2011 in Chinese, Thai, Russian and beyond.

Where does GDI fit into all of this? GDI is the registrar for .ws websites. .ws stands for World Site. While .com is distinctively American, .ws is distinctively global. Nothing sends the message of the opportunity with IDNs quite like the top level domain that means World Site. .ws domains are accessible across the globe.