The technology allows domain names such as Yahoo.com and Amazon.com to be registered in at least 36 languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Yiddish, Danish, Arabic and Chinese. Previously, only domain names in English script were possible.
Each domain name, in another language, can be registered individually at a cost of US$35 per year. According to i-DNS, it is legal for another person to register a similar domain name in another language. To give major domain name holders more privilege, it will be alerting them of this new facility.
Initial marketing efforts are targeted at Internet Service Providers worldwide to provide the service to their subscribers. John Wong, i-DNS.com's interim CEO and chairman, hopes to see one million domain names taken up in 18 months.
With i-DNS, the e-commerce potential of the non-English-medium Internet markets will be unleashed, said Mr Wong, especially when this group currently makes up more than 68 per cent of the world's population.
Backed with US$4 million from General Atlantic Partners LLC, a US-based private equity direct investment firm of which Mr Wong is also a partner, the start-up will partner with global connectivity providers such as AboveNET and PSINet to further widen their global network.
It currently has eight i-DNS servers located in Singapore, Japan, Korea, China, India, US, UK and Australia. In two or three years' time, Mr Wong sees a public listing as one of the natural exits.
The i-DNS technology started out as a research project under Dr Tan Tin Wee of NUS in March 1998. It is currently operating with a 10-person team. Its main revenue source comes from the sales of domain names but Mr Wong foresees translation as one of the revenue inputs too.