.Net faces a lot of competition in China.

In my series of articles to study the Chinese domain market, I have already covered
the big picture, .cn, and .com [LINKS]. Today, let’s look at .net. This analysis is based on data I have collected from China Internet Network Information Center reports published since 1997.

Pie chart showing selection of top level domains in China

The chart shows a breakdown of domains registered in China as of December, 2018. As you can see, .net accounts for a mere 2.9% or 1.1 million domains. While .cn and .com are considered mainstream extensions by corporate China, .net is often looked upon as just a niche extension.

Chart showing the number of registered .net domains in China

The chart shows moderate growth over the years. The surge in 2015 and 2016 might have been result of the “Chips” boom centered around .com but spreading to other extensions. In the last two years, however, growth has gone down. Long term, the .net extension faces tough challenges because Chinese companies tend to stick to .com and .cn, and there is added competition from many similar extensions introduced in the last few years, such as:

  1. .site
  2. .online
  3. .website
  4. .network
  5. .wang
  6. .网址

Of particular concern are .wang and .网址. The former is a Pinyin word (网= net) and the latter is a Chinese IDN extension which means “net address”. Both extensions are very similar to .net semantically. So, there is a lot of choices for end users if they want something related to the net or network, which is not good for .net.

Nonetheless, there is still hope – albeit a small one. Although there is no company listed in the 2018 Top 100 Chinese Internet Companies Report using .net in its corporate domain, this changes in the 2019 list where No. 84 Loyo (a game developer) owns the matching Loyo.net. Will corporate adoption of .net increase? Time will tell.

In short, .net is a very small segment in the Chinese domain market, but some demand from end users does exist, as shown in the case of Loyo.net.

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