Wow - is it that "complicated"? No wonder my "backwater" Thai IDN domains where the locals are fortunate to have the entire alphabet "there" on the keyboard get many more type-ins than a typical Japanese name....
You know, I'm beginning to think Thai IDNs aren't merely such an "exotic alternative destination for your IDN investment bucks" after all. Consider the evidence:
1) Thais love .com, very little affinity for their .th ccTLD which as everyone knows is covered in more tape than a CSI crime scene.
2) But better than that, Thais really love ".com" in Thai = ".คอม"
. What evidence do I have for that statement?
a) Thais speak and write Thai, not English!
b) When Thais write ".com" in website titles, or incorporate into logos, most sites use the Thai ".คอม" not the English ".com". That is even knowing that ".คอม" doesn't exist yet. Imagine when it does exist ....
c) (For you hardcore statisticians rather than lovers of "fluffy" arguments) -
A few stats from truehits.net, showing what Thais search for when they are looking for a full domain name:
น่ารักดอทคอม = 6336 searches in December 2009
narak.com = 4257 searches in December 2009
น่ารัก.com = 93 searches in December 2009
เด็กดีดอทคอม = 42533 searches in December 2009
เด็กดี.คอม = 7378 searches in December 2009
เด็กดี.com = 1689 searches in December 2009
If nothing else, this shows that Thais are very comfortable with "คอม" being *their* version of ".com", even before it exists. When they start getting used to domains that begin with Thai letters, they just will not switch to ASCII ".com" - they will type "คอม", and ".com" will go straight to the Thai history books.
So that says to me I am already losing a huge % of type-ins because Thais are typing in ".คอม", not ".com".
Add to that the type-ins being lost because of the 40% of sleepy Thais still using IE6 ......
If type-ins were bad, the potential "multipliers" wouldn't mean much. But type-ins have already doubled every year or so for the last four years.
3) For a country where Wikipedia says only 20M speak Thai, you would think search volumes would be very low compared with more populous languages .... wrong!
a) For a start, 60M people in Thailand can speak Thai, its the official language, nobody gets taught to read and write "Iisaan" in school every day. So when typing Thai into the internet, its 60M not 20M. Any Thai can tell you that.
b) For "big volume" search terms that you can compare across the major IDN languages, Thai comes out very well. For both "music" and "games" it comes out top 5 or 6 in terms of absolute search numbers. We aren't talking Bulgaria or Hindi here (no offense either language), Thais are avid searchers for popular terms. I'm not publishing results for this as its part of a larger project but check out Google Insight if you want to do your own research here.
Sorry for the rant, I just get rather tired of seeing "top IDN destinations" and nobody ever seems to mention Thai as a possibility even. The "normal suspects" are fine, each has strengths and weaknesses, but when everyone is getting in a frenzy and the prices just keep going up and up, don't forget the "exotic alternatives" like Thailand, its not just a great vacation destination
And btw, I'm not selling anything here. My Thai IDNs are locked up now for the next 12 months at least. If I was on a sales drive, I would have written this before the auction.