Three Arab nations are the first to receive their own non-Latin based language world wide web addresses from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates now can claim their own "country codes" - i.e. 'eg' for Egypt but written in Arabic script - after ICANN fast-tracked the plan to roll out these top-level domains last October.
Other addresses in such languages as Chinese, Thai and Tamil are expected to follow as more than 20 countries have requested approval from ICANN, according to the BBC.
The political, cultural and financial implications of the non-Latin language domain names are expected to be profound: ICANN’s senior director for internationalized domain names, Tina Dam, called it "the most significant day" since the launch of the internet. (via the BBC).
Marketers - especially of global brands - will feel the impact as well. For starters, the ICANN decision means software developers will have to make sure their applications work with non-Latin scripts. Right now, not all e-mail systems do.
500 Top-Level Domains
On a bigger scale, the move also also means that marketers have to rethink their concept of how information will be posted, presented and searched online. The change has the potential of expanding the existing 21 Top Level Domains (TLDs) to 500 or even more and these are likely to be organized around themes of common interest or community, E. Thomas Watson, an attorney with Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson said in a TechNewsWorld article. "It could make them more interesting or viable than existing names."
At the same time 500 new TLDs also means 500 new ways that a brand could be corrupted or hijacked. Brands will have to step up their monitoring, Blake Lawit, an attorney with Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin, also told TechNewsWorld. "They will need to register not only the domain names that are key to their products in many new languages, but they will also need to police cybersquatters and typo-squatters in many new languages," he said.