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Google scoffs down Chinese domain name takeaway

Registers 18 .中国 domains for the PRC

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Google may have a love-hate relationship with China, but local reports suggest it still sees huge potential in the People’s Republic, claiming that it recently snapped up 18 key domain names under the internationalised suffix ‘.中国’.

Internet oversight body ICANN has been pushing its Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) project for years, but only relatively recently allowed country code (cc) TLDs to be fully localised - both before and after the dot.

Among those names registered by Google are ‘adsense.中国’, ‘adwords.中国’, ‘Google.中国’, ‘Gmail.中国’, ‘Android.中国’ and ‘Chrome.中国’, according to Chinese site the National Business Daily (via ZDNetAsia).

Google may merely be practising the age-old tactic of defensive registration, no doubt keen to head off any cyber squatters before they get their hands on the domains and harvest them for click-through ad traffic or other nefarious purposes.

However, the firm has maintained a sizeable presence in China despite its high profile exit in 2010, when it relocated its search servers to Hong Kong in the wake of the Operation Aurora attacks on the search giant and other firms.

With China already the largest smartphone market in the world, Google has a huge opportunity to cash in through mobile advertising. Its Android OS now has a market share of over 80 per cent in the country, according to local analyst Analysys International.

In fact, its reliance on Android may explain Google’s combative stance when it recently forced Acer to cancel the launch of a new smartphone said to have been powered by an OS from web firm Alibaba.

Google’s Andy Rubin claimed the Aliyun OS was a non-compatible version of Android, something the Chocolate Factory must avoid at all costs if it is to keep control of what could be an extremely lucrative revenue generator in China.

Its traditional search business, of course, is facing irrelevance in the country with a market share of around 15 per cent and with new arrival Qihoo breathing down its neck.

Local hero Baidu is way out in front with a share of over three-quarters, although even it admitted this week that it could take “a couple of years” before it’s able to close the “mobile monetisation gap”.

Google couldn't immediately be reached to comment on the news. ®

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