.JP and Other Trends in the Japanese Domain Market...
As a fluent speaker of Japanese and a former resident of Japan, I have always tried to keep my finger on the pulse the country including technology and Internet trends. I thought I would take this opportunity to shed some light on the domain market in Japan and in particular the Japanese country-code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) .JP.
Considering Japan is the third largest economy in the world with over 127 million inhabitants and an Internet penetration rate of 78%, one would think that the domain market in Japan would be large and highly developed. The strange thing is that it is not. Currently there are only 1,190,404 registered .JP domains. To put this number into perspective, the UK with only 61 million people has nearly 9 million registered .UK domains. More starkly, Canada with just 33 million people has almost 1.5 million registered .CA domains. To get some answers as to why .JP is so under utilized, I turned to an active domainer in the Japanese market and here are his conclusions:
1) The co.JP domain for many years was the only extension available for registration. Tight regulations like having to show proof of business registration to even qualify to purchase the domain of one's own company name (to ensure that only Sony Corporation can buy sony.co.jp) made it difficult and discouraging for many small businesses.
2) According to JPRS, the official registry operator of .JP, there is a limit of one co.JP domain per legal entity! Therefore, companies and businesses, who typically are the main consumers of domain names in other countries, in Japan, they were only limited to ONE main corporate domain name.
3) With the restrictive rules and no second level registrations allowed, many companies and individuals started registering .COM, .NET and other extensions in full force. Even now, with the new open registration policies (today, anyone can register a .JP second level domain as long as they have a permanent postal address in Japan - HEXONET offers local presence registration services if one doesn't have a local Japanese address), registrants haven't yet switched back and it may take some time for .JP to retake the preferred domain status.
4) Prices for .JP domains are still relatively expensive compared to more popular gTLDs.
5) Unlike other major domain markets like North America and Europe, there seems to be less emphasis on having a memorable URL. This is because the Japanese like to use search engines versus directly typing in the full URL. Companies typically provide the search keywords in their advertising with their URLs. As an in the example below, So-Net, a Japanese ISP owned by SONY, features a search box with the keyphrase 'So-Net hikari' in their marketing. This trend is prevalent in TV ads, print, and mixed media.
- IDNs are slowing gaining popularity in Japan. In fact, this year NameDrive has partnered WIXI (ICANN-accredited and .JP accredited domain registrar) to launch the first domain parking platform dedicated to the Japanese market. IDNs are the focus of this new platform.
- In 2011, we will see the release of the .日本 ccTLD. (meaning .Japan or 'Nihon' in Japanese)
- JPRS plans on implementing DNSSEC in .JP domain name services in January 2011.
- Last month, McAfee released a report ranking .JP as the safest domain extension
.JP at a Glance:
Available Domains: .JP
Pricing: View Pricing
Requirements: Anyone can register a .JP domain as long as you have a permanent postal address in Japan
Registration Period: 1-10 yrs.
IDN Capable: Yes