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How important are .cn domains to Chinese companies?

Kassey Lee examines if big Chinese companies care about .cn domain names.

Image of hanging lanterns with Chinese letters and .CN

Many investors may assume that .cn is the preferred extension of Chinese companies for their domestic market. However, the result of my recent study may surprise you.

I picked the top 100 Chinese companies from the 2019 Fortune China 500 list (in Chinese), then used Baidu to find their corporate domains (the flagship domain representing a company). For a corporate domain not using .cn, I also checked the status of the .cn domain.

Here’s the result of my study.

Usage of .cn Count
As corporate domain 25
Developed 12
Forward to .com 4
Not resolve 48
For sale 7
Others 4

Among the top 100 companies, only 25 of them actually use .cn in their corporate domain. In other words, when you search for a company in Baidu, you’ll see its .cn domain name, which is used to serve the domestic market.

Twelve companies use .com in their corporate domain but the corresponding .cn domain is also operating. This practice can catch all visitors, regardless of whether they visit the .com or .cn domain. Although four companies have chosen not to develop their .cn domain, at least they forward visitors to the corresponding .com domain, which is also a good practice.

A whopping 48 .cn domains do not resolve, and some of them may be owned by third parties. Surprisingly, seven .cn domains are still for sale, suggesting the relevant companies are not interested in securing these important digital assets (at least, at the price they are offered). Finally, four .cn domains are likely owned by someone not related to the companies.

Putting all of them together, this is what I see: almost 60% of the top companies in China do not own or develop their matching .cn domain. So, .cn domains are not very important to Chinese companies. It’s still a .com world.

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