Google announced this afternoon that internet users can now apply for the domain name .みんな , (pronounced “mee-n-nuh” according to the company), which translates to “everybody” written in hiragana, a component in Japanese script.
The move comes as part of an ongoing Google initiative to increase the diversity among the existing types of domain names. In 2012 Google revealed that it had applied for over 90 different domain names, some of which at first glance appear quite targeted (.youtube, .blog, .book, .gmail), others which appear more open-ended (.foo, .boo, .free, .phd). On the page introducing the original project, Google writes:
.EDU has always meant education, .GOV government, .ORG non-profits. Today’s new domains are infinitely more open-ended. There will be new homes for creativity, for business, for explorers, comedians and professionals. What will .HOW mean? .EAT? .SOY? We have our ideas, but how you develop your piece of this online real estate is up to you. Whether you’re a dad or a traveler, a developer or a movie maker, a Japanese speaker or a tour guide, the web, happily, is what you make of it.
Among those 90 some-odd names included three domain names written in non-Roman scripts: the aformentioned Hiraga .みんな , the Chinese .谷歌 (the rough phonetic translation of “Google”), along with a third katakana domain that we’ll leave to our talented Japanese-speaking readers to decipher. Given that みんな means “everybody,” this domain, if it catches on, could lead to any number of outcomes. Google writes in its announcement:
We hope that .みんな will make it easier for Japanese people and companies to create more recognizable website names that better suit their businesses or personalities and are easier to understand and remember in Japanese.“みんな” means “everyone” in Japanese and suggests multiple people doing things together. Our vision is for .みんな to be a collaborative space, where folks can build online communities — something along the lines of “Cook, everybody!” or “Run, everybody!” But that’s just a thought. We can’t wait to see what new ideas the new domain will help make possible.
Users can go through any one of Google’s partner registrars to register for a .みんな domain name. Applications are only open to trademark holders at the moment, but they will open to everyone mid-February.
Google tells us it has no updates on application status of the two remaining Chinese and Japanese-script domain names.
Appropriating domain names in non-Roman scripts is not a new concept. Last September, a team of Finnish entrepreneurs received approval from ICANN to begin selling .在线 (Chinese for online) and .中文网 (Chinese for “Chinese site) domain names.
If you like a little kawaii with your Google news, below we’ve embedded Google’s Japanese-language video announcement of the new domain.
(Editing by Paul Bischoff)
(Image via Flickr user kzys)