Nearly a year has passed since Early Bird Sunrise registration began for the coveted new.asia domain extension, the Early Bird Sunrise period (SR2a) was the first opportunity for commercial entities to register a.asia extension. Prior to this, registration was limited to Asian governments wishing to submit their public bodies and culturally or economically important domains during the pre-Sunrise period.
Throughout the commercial Sunrise period, entry was limited to those companies with registered trademarks trading in on of the 72 Asian countries as defined by ICANN, the period was split into four sub-periods which ran consecutively with the entry requirements becoming less stringent over time, and finally closed for new registration on January 31 2008. On March 26 2008 the.asia Go Live registration period started allowing anyone around the world to buy a.asia domain, and prompted a wave of speculators to begin buying up cyber real-estate from web hosts in the hope that a few companies with sloppy marketing departments had missed the Sunrise window.
So why is the.asia extension so important, when the region has functioned perfectly well over the years with.com and the other Asian regional extensions?
Put simply.asia provides a unifying sense of economic identity for the region which has over 500 million internet users (compared with 315 million in Europe and 253 million in the USA) a number which is growing steadily all the time as the cost of technology decreases..asia also allows companies to demonstrate an online presence and expand in to a region with one of the fastest moving economies in the world. That said how many companies have taken advantage of their newly acquired domains and actually set up a live site, well fewer that you would expect, a search of the obvious key players (Pepsi, Ford etc) returned "error page not found messages" Toyota the third largest Asian company according to Business Week's 'Top 25 Asian Companies' have not set up a.asia page, Sony the seventh largest Asian company's site is "under construction" and 7eleven the mini-market of choice for the region has their domain 'parked' in fact of the well known international brands only Honda seems to have a fully functioning.asia domain. So why this reticence to embrace.asia? Do we expect to see a wealth of new.asia sites before the end of the year? Or, are the big players just happy with the fact that they have secured their plot and are now content to sit on the fence while the price of the cyber real estate rises around them?
On thing does seem certain - this area is bound to take off eventually, and although the transition is slow it is gradually happening, with millions of quality domain names still on offer it could be time to speculate and buy your company's piece of.asia before somebody else does.