GoDaddy now selling .cn domains in Asia but not mainland China, says Chinese rivals cheaper but based on ‘unsustainable’ models

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2016, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2016, 6:35pm

Small businesses anywhere can now purchase a .cn extension from GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain registrar, to boost their online presence in China with a country specific domain.

GoDaddy started sales of .cn domains globally and also expanded into 11 markets across Asia including Hong Kong and Singapore on Monday as it seeks to establish itself in the region, the company said.

Local payment methods and customer support is available in all the new markets, it added.

China has still not made the list but GoDaddy is seeking a Chinese partner to help it enter the world’s largest internet market, according to its CEO Blake Irving. But customers in China can still purchase domains on the site with GoDaddy's currency mapping feature that facilitates global payment.

Irving stressed the company is “super committed” to serving Asia, including selling .cn domains to customers. It stopped such sales in 2010 as it was unwilling to comply with the Chinese government’s edict that registrants provide a photo ID.

“We will do as much as we can to protect the privacy of our customers,” said Irving, adding that the company would also “comply with local government regulations.”

GoDaddy faces strong competition from other domain registrars in China, particularly Xinnet and Alibaba-owned HiChina, which collectively own about 50 per cent of the market for domain registrations in the country, according to research firm IDC.

“[We plan to compete by] providing great products and being price competitive with the incumbents,” said Irving.

“We have the best search capabilities and inventory [in the industry].”

According to the respective companies’ websites, a .cn extension costs 38 yuan (US$5.81) on Xinnet and 29 yuan on HiChina for the first year, while GoDaddy charges HK$80 (US$10.30), or up to twice as much.

Irving said GoDaddy’s pricing strategy is based on a special algorithm that prices domains based on the markets and languages the customers search in.

“[Certain domain registrars] in China are uneconomic, [with an] unsustainable model,” said Irving. “You can’t go below cost every year. What happens the second year?”

“If you are going to go below what your cost is, you’re going to have to make it up later.”