The estimated number of Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) declined by around 14% in 2017, with the biggest decline due to a change in policy by the Vietnamese ccTLD manager, which led to a drop in their second level IDNs from nearly 1 million to just over 5,000. Excluding the impact of Viet Nam, there was a drop of approximately 6% during 2017 with numbers declining to 5.1 million from 5.4m. The decline compares to a growth of 28% from 2015 to 2016 and 9% from 2014 to 2015.
The figures come from the latest IDN World Report, most recently updated in early September. The report shows IDNs have consistently comprised approximately 2% of overall domain name registrations. In 2016, thanks to a growth in second level IDNs under the Chinese ccTLD, .cn, the percentage of overall domains was 3%.
The IDN World Report is a collaborative research project led by EURid in collaboration with UNESCO and Verisign that commenced in 2011. It’s supported by the regional ccTLD organisations CENTR, APTLD and LACTLD, and by numerous individual ccTLD registries who share data each year on their IDN experiences.
The decline in .vn IDNs came about due to VNNIC introducing a registration fee for IDN domain names in the Vietnamese country code top level domain. Until January 2017, VNNIC offered free registrations of second level IDNs under .vn and this resulted in nearly 1 million registrations. During 2017, VNNIC brought its IDNs in line with its ASCII domain offerings, with registrations available through its network of registrars for a fee. By the end of 2017, second level IDNs under .vn had dropped to just over 5,000.
In China, CNNIC ceased providing registration statistics for .cn and .中国. In line with industry practice (eg Verisign’s Domain Name Industry Brief), the IDN World Report has published estimates for these TLDs based on the last reported figures.
When it comes to second versus third level domains, as of December 2017, there were 2.2 million top level IDNs (unchanged since December 2016) and 5.3 million second level IDNs (a reduction of 18% or 1.2 million since December 2016). The report explains that a Top Level (or full) IDN has the same script at both the TLD level and the domain label. Examples are пример.рф and 例如.中国. Second level IDNs, such as 例如.com and dæmi.eu, have a non-ASCII label under an ASCII TLD.
In December 2017 the report shows there were 5.1 million IDNs (or 70% of the total) in ccTLDs and 2.3 million IDNs (30%) in gTLDs. Between December 2016-2017 the number of IDNs in ccTLDs declined 19%, while in gTLDs there was no growth.
The top TLDs, for both top and second level IDNs, as of December 2017 .cn (second level), .com (second level) and .РФ (top level)
The full report, including an analysis of the scripts of web content under .eu and .ею, is available here.