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OPLIN 4cast #388: Numeric domain names

Posted in 4cast

numeric keypadYou’re probably not in the market for a new domain name for your library, and almost certainly haven’t considered a domain name that’s the same as the library’s telephone number –, for example. But such a numeric domain name might be exactly what you would want if you were running a library in China. In the Western world, domain names are precisely that – names – and a numeric domain name would have less meaning than a domain name composed of words. In China, however, the opposite is true. And since short numeric domain names of six digits or less are preferred, and there are a limited number of such numeric combinations, many numeric domain names actually have a very high market value.

  • Understanding numeric domain value in Chinese culture (Media Options/Tess Diaz)  “The Chinese are a people of many languages, but no alphabet. Chinese businesses have historically used numbers or pinyin versions of Chinese characters to brand their websites. There are tens of thousands of Chinese characters, with every single word having its own associated visual character. In addition, there are numerous Chinese languages and strong numeric symbolism from Confucianism, Taoism, folk belief, and recent internet slang. This leaves numbers as the greatest commonly understood ‘language.’”
  • The secret messages inside Chinese URLs (New Republic/Christopher Beam)  “This kind of number-language has become an infinitely malleable shorthand among Chinese web users: 1 means ‘want,’ 2 means ‘love,’ 4 means ‘dead’ or ‘world’ or ‘is,’ 5 means ‘I,’ 7 means ‘wife’ or ‘eat,’ 8 means ‘get rich’ or ‘not,’ and 9 means ‘long time’ or ‘alcohol.’ The numbers 5201314, for example, mean 我爱你一生一世, or ‘I will love you forever’; 0748 means ‘go die’; and 687 means ‘I’m sorry.’”
  • Numeric domains, Chinese culture and how you can profit from it (Domain Holdings blog/Giuseppe Graziano)  “Numeric domains are sought after mostly by Chinese buyers – we can safely say that 80% of the players in this market come from China. The reason for this is because Chinese businesses have historically used numbers or pinyin versions of Chinese characters to brand their websites. English keyword domains are difficult to remember for native Chinese speakers, therefore most of the popular websites in China use numbers (eg or pinyin (, etc.). Add to this the limited supply of only 100 and 1000, then you can quickly understand the rising value.”
  • Are numeric domains a good idea? (Vastus Domains blog/Mark Sittler)  “In Asia and especially certain Asian countries like China, numeric domain names are huge. In such cultures, numbers in general come attached to great meaning. Specific combinations of numbers have even more meaning and the right combinations could be worth some serious money. In case you’re wondering just how serious the money attached to some of these domains can be, just consider the fact that wound up selling for $245,000.”

More value facts:
DN Journal’s 2014 year-to-date sales chart for domain names includes selling for $950,000 and selling for just under $2 million.