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Reflecting back to 2009 – dotMobi, ICANN 36, Korea DMZ

Wow it’s hard to believe we shot this video EIGHT years ago this week inside the DMZ looking over to the border with North Korea, while attending the ICANN 36 meeting.

Not sure if the same would be attempted today, or if one could now even venture to where we stood.

Some things have remained the same. Dr. Evil is still in control over there.

Other things have changed.

Most, if not all of my former colleagues and the original folks at .mobi have moved on, professionally.

At the time of launch in 2006, and in late 2009 when this video was shot, a ton of web content looked like crap on mobile devices. Even on the iPhone—at least at first.

It was envisioned that content hosted on a mobile TLD (.mobi) web address would indicate that such content was utilizing W3C approved best practices to ensure a good user experience on mobile web-enabled devices, regardless of the handset or the network operator being used.

There was considerable effort to launch a solution featuring the .mobi TLD.  The TLD was originally financially backed by Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Telefónica Móviles, Telecom Italia Mobile, Orascom Telecom, GSM Association, Hutchison Whampoa, Syniverse Technologies, and Visa.

We all were wowed in 2007 when Steve Jobs pinched and zoomed in on the front page of the New York Times when first introducing the original iPhone.  A .mobi “button” seemed to be on the horizon.

Nope. That didn’t happen.

That kind of lousy user experience didn’t last long—and unfortunately long term demand for .mobi web addresses waned as mobile content delivering technology progressed. Content adaptation, device detection software, mobile-publishing tools and other resources are now readily available to publishers/developers.

As a result, even though there’s plenty of content that looks great on your phone or tablet today, there’s still a lot of content hosted on .com or other TLDs that still presents a lousy experience on a mobile device.

I’m continually amazed that businesses spending money on custom web sites do not pay attention to the fact that probably most of their online traffic is coming to them via a mobile device. If your site looks and works like crap on a mobile device you are going to lose business.

But that’s not a TLD problem. It’s a technology utilization and best practice problem.

DotMobi registrations peaked at a bit over 1 million registrations a few years ago. Today, although in a rather steep decline, the TLD remains with 500K registrations.

Technology disrupts. Especially in mobile. Stuff happens.

I would not trade the experience gained and the friendships made for anything.

Mobile rules the Internet today.


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2017 Global Domain Industry Summit slated for 7-9 July in Xiamen, China

One of the largest domain conferences in China will proceed with its second act this July in Xiamen, China.

UPDATE: The conference website seems to be only in Chinese at the moment. However according to English documentation that I have obtained, the conference will be held at the Swiss Grand Hotel.  It will feature multi-platform real-time auctions. They are stating “Ten platforms: 10,000+ bidders…” Auction items will include “user submitted quality domains and reserved quality domains from registries.”  Besides new gTLD auctions, they are indicating domain names will be on auction for “Double Pinyin, NN, NNN, LL, LLL.”

Ticket prices range from an incredible $19 for a “Common Ticket,” which gets you in the door to the entire meeting and even the “closed-door” sessions, plus the chance to network and get invited to non-published events by sponsors and such.  However if you’re looking to attend the lunches, welcome wine party, round-table dinner and want your 4 or 5 star room included in the deal, it will set you back anywhere from $199 for a “Silver Ticket” to $299 for a “Gold Ticket,” or $399 for a “Diamond Ticket.” That’s a steal by western standards. 

Xiamen is a lovely metropolis with fabulous outdoor markets and attractions. It’s known as China’s “domain island” where several domain name registrars and domain investors are located.

It’s on the coast and about an hour and a half flight NE from Hong Kong, or about three from Beijing. Last I checked, it will take you 1 or 2 connections to get there from the USA or Europe.   You lose a day when traveling there from overseas, so for USA folks that means you can still enjoy the 4th of July, leave on the 5th or 6th, and get there in time for the start, although you may have to deal with the jet lag.

I’ve been to Xiamen several times in the summer and it can be rather warm and sticky, even for someone like me that’s originally from Houston. But don’t worry, they have A/C.

I have to say that everything seemed well-organized last year for a conference with over 1,000 attendees, at least from an attendee point of view.

So last year, on behalf of ChopChop.domains, I put together a video summary of the first event held in Hangzhou that will give you a little taste on what a Chinese domain name conference is all about. I also had all of about 7 minutes to grab the person that ran the entire conference on behalf of the main organizer, BizCN.com, and do a quick video interview with her. It sheds some light on the increasing role of women in the China domain name industry.

The site for this year’s conference is at www.GDSday.com


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Video: Setting up your business in China. Some basics.

Earlier this month, during my most recent business trip to China, I sat down for a chat (on behalf of ChopChop.domains) with my friend Anton Li, Managing Director of A&L International Business Consultants Ltd. in Beijing, about the intricacies of assisting foreign nationals in setting up, establishing, and maintaining legally recognized businesses in China. Lately he’s been helping domain name industry customers.


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Video: Summary of Global Domain Summit in Hangzhou, China

I was very fortunate to attend the Global Domain Summit in Hangzhou earlier this month.

I flew to Beijing first and spent a few days there. Then we took the 6 hour high-speed train to Hangzhou, and were promptly and warmly greeted by the conference organizers at the train station.  We were immediately whisked in a private bus with other attendees to the Relax Hotel where we received our badges upon walking in the lobby.

I have to say everything seemed well-organized for a conference with over 1,000 attendees, at least from an attendee point of view. There was plenty of food on hand if you were hungry, and plenty of friendly conference workers to assist.

My only complaint early on was that the air-conditioning did not seem to be working in the main “ballroom” of sorts, and during the opening ceremony I found it to be quite uncomfortably warm and sticky.  Being originally from Houston, I know what this kind of heat is like. But it’s another situation when you are in a room with hundreds of others and there is no air blowing at all. I literally had to leave the room after about 10 minutes.

Eventually that little matter was resolved and the rest of the conference provided ample opportunities to meet up with old industry friends and lots of new faces.  I found many of the local China domainers on hand to be very friendly and engaging. Many came right up unannounced and immediately introduced themselves.  By far WeChat is the way everyone exchanges basic contact information.  I have found it to be an indispensable tool when traveling in China.

So on behalf of ChopChop.domains, I put together the following video summary that will give you a little taste on what a Chinese domain name conference is all about. I also had all of about 7 minutes to grab the person that ran the entire conference on behalf of the main organizer, BizCN.com, and do a quick video interview. It sheds some light on the increasing role of women in the China domain name industry.

 


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Daniel Zhang 张志 @ Xinnet 新网 on the China domain aftermarket & IDNs

It’s a bit of a schlep from the Haidian district of Beijing, where I usually stay, to the Xinnet offices waaaay out on the opposite south side.

I don’t mind the one-way 90 minute drive (in normal traffic) because there is so much to absorb and take in as you make your way through this gigantic metropolis.  It’s *always* a feast for the eyes, and hard to explain unless you see it for yourself.

The drive is also worth it because I get to meet with domain industry long-timer Daniel Zhang, whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for 10 years. Every time we meet I always learn something new from him about the China domain name market! I also learn something new about him. For example, he’s an avid cyclist who has a sharp collection of jerseys!

Daniel runs Xinnet’s domain business unit. Xinnet, in business 23 years, is among the 20 domain name registrars by volume in the world, and one of the largest in China.  They claim over 16,000 channel partners and more than 1 million enterprise/SMB customers.

On our most recent trip to Beijing earlier this month, Daniel was gracious to spend 10 minutes with us on camera chatting about the business, aftermarket price trends, and why their enterprise/SMB customers are increasing their appetite for aftermarket domain names and IDNs (fully Chinese character domain names).


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The Beijing company that is building a “Great Wall of Domain Names” in China

Shot this last month. The guys at EJEE were among the first that we engaged when embarking on the domain registrar and aftermarket signup phase in China several years back.  We’ve always appreciated their friendship and support.

Two things that I was not able to capture in the video:

  1. Their very cool white Tesla charging out in front of the office. I think I’d be afraid to own one in Beijing. The traffic situation is to manic in my view!  I’d be afraid to drive here myself in any car, let alone a shiny new Tesla!
  2. The camaraderie at their office.  On a number of visits I’ve noticed local domain investors I’ve gotten to know over the years just using this place as a meeting spot of sorts.  It’s a comfortable place to just hang out, drink tea, and talk shop.  In what is a very virtual business nothing replaces actual face-to-face contact. This applies in any country.

Even though I’ve got a professional microphone we encountered some sound level issues during the interview portion, but you can still understand.  Enjoy.


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Interview with Daniel Chen @ 190.com on the Chinese domain name market

As many in the industry know, domain names are a hot commodity for Chinese investors these days.

So it seemed appropriate to talk to the guy heading the company that spent about $20 million acquiring domain names last year, and in particular acquired about 7,000 non-vowel LLLL.com names.

We talked about:

  • Acquisition activity in 2015.
  • Where is your U.S. office going to be located?
  • What you going to do with all those LLLL.coms?
  • Do corporations really want pinyin names vs. random LLLL.com names?
  • Where do you see pricing and the market going in the next year or so?
  • Why the rapid growth in prices last year?
  • How important is the TLD string itself to the people in China.
  • MIIT regulations and ICP
  • Why did you choose 190.com as your company name?

We spent over two hours talking in this interview shot for ChopChop.domains, TLD Registry’s new site that lets user find and buy Chinese domain names, even if they don’t speak Chinese. Disclosure: I am a Vice-President at TLD Registry.

Since many reading this blog probably don’t speak Chinese, we figured it might be a bit easier to watch and learn if we cut out most of the in-Chinese responses and let my colleague Jin Wang provide the interpretation.

I hope you gain some knowledge about the Chinese market from watching this video!