Pinyin Domains: 6 Things You Need to Know
To fully understand the Chinese domain market – the forces that drive various purchases and the reasoning behind some eye-popping prices – it helps to familiarize yourself with a bit of Chinese culture and language.
If you're new to buying domains that may be attractive to Chinese investors, then one of the first things you should learn is pinyin. Below, we provide a quick guide to understanding what pinyin is, examples of pinyin domains and why these domains can carry a significant amount of value.
Historically, Chinese businesses have preferred to use domains that are either numbers or pinyin versions of Chinese characters. But increasingly, American domainers are also paying a premium for pinyin domains as their values continue to rise in today's market.
Here's what you need to know:
1) What is pinyin?
Pinyin is a system of writing Chinese characters using the Latin alphabet based on the pronunciation of those characters when spoken in Mandarin Chinese. In other words, pinyin is used to read and write the Chinese language without using Chinese characters.
2) What are some examples of pinyin?
Wangluo, for example, is a pinyin for 网络, which means "Internet" in Chinese. Nínhǎo is a pinyin for 您好, which means "hello" in Chinese. Ăi is a pinyin for 矮, which means "low in rank" in Chinese.
3) How do the Chinese use pinyin?
Pinyin is the official transliteration system of China – it's used to read and write the Chinese language. From a very young age, children are taught how to read and write with pinyin: in fact, it's a required subject – much in the same way that English is also a required subject in Chinese schools.
4) How is pinyin used on a keyboard?
The majority of Chinese users use a standard QWERTY keyboard with Latin alphabet keys. They type pinyin, and software converts it into the appropriate Chinese characters. (Newer software is increasingly good at predicting the appropriate characters with minimal keystrokes, which helps to speed up this process a bit).
5) What makes pinyin domains so valuable?
For starters, having a pinyin domain is important for Chinese businesses. The same rules for buying English domains apply to registering pinyin domains: they should be as short as possible and easy to remember. Of course, the supply of extremely short domains (2-3 alpha or numeric characters) is already limited, which inevitably drives up prices for such domains in the aftermarket.
Secondly, many pinyin domains look and sound like English words, even though they have a specific meaning in Chinese. This can significantly increase the value, as such domains will naturally appeal to both Chinese and American/English-speaking buyers. (The larger the buyer base, the higher the potential value.)
6) What are some examples of valuable pinyin domains?
At any given time, there are plenty of valuable pinyin domains on the market. Some notable examples of registered pinyin domains include niaochao.com, owned by prominent domainer Thunayan AL-Ghanim (aka "Elequa") of Future Media Architects. Niaochao, meaning "bird's nest" was the nickname for Beijing's 2008 Olympic stadium. An example of a dual-meaning domain is Bang.com, which is American-owned. In Chinese, the pinyin bang means "to help" or "to assist." American computer company Compusystems owns Wang.com, which means "net" or "network" and is also a common surname in China, and has been registered since the 1980s.
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