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Interview with Mr. Michael Ng, CEO, i-DNS.net International

Online, ASCII24, 12 May 2000 -- When you were surfing the Internet and were not able to reach a website you wanted because of a misspelled English address, you would probably have said to yourself, "I would never have misspelled that URL if its name were written in Japanese kanji and hiragana and katakana."

Now here is the company that has already started a service that allows you to enter URLs in the Chinese language and that is trying to roll it out multiple languages globally, including Japanese in the near future. The company is i-DNS.net International (hereinafter referred to as "i-DNS.net.") based in Palo Alto, California, U.S.A. During his stay in Japan, we interviewed Mr. Michael Ng., CEO of i-DNS.net about his company's Japanese and global business strategies.

Q1. First of all, what services would you be offering in Japan specifically?

A1. We will soon bring you a new service that will allows you to use Japanese-language domain names so that you may enjoy services over the Internet. As you know, users so far have been required to use alphanumeric domain names, such as "ascii.co.jp." We will see a dramatic change because you will now be able to enter Japan names in the URL field of your Web browser. It will make it much easier for English-shy users who can only use Japanese to use Internet services. Our Internationalized Domain Name System (i-DNS) technology now supports not only Japanese kanji, hiragana and katakana, but also Chinese characters in China and Korean hangul characters in the ROK. This means that the i-DNS technology eliminates the English language barrier for non-English users to surf over the Internet.


i-DNS.net Offers A New Service Allowing You to Register Your Domain Name with A Suffixes of Either ". Kai-sha," ".Netto," Or ". So-Shi-Ki"

Q2. A number of Asian universities and research institutes appear to have conducted a variety of experiments and research studies on Internationalized Domain Name System, or a multilingual domain name system that allows for the use of non-English languages in different domain names over the Internet. So how is your Internationalized Domain Name System (i-DNS) technology different from others?

A2. First of all, the most distinctive difference is that we are the world's one and only company that offers internationalized domain name registration service today. We are not only able to provide that technology but we also have in place a multilingual service that allows non-English business users to register their Web addresses in their native languages in three categories of domains corresponding to those with suffixes of ".com," ".org," and ".net"; for example, in ". Kai-sha," ".Netto," and ". So-shi-ki" using Japanese. What makes it possible for us to do this - what no other companies and organizations can do - is our solid technological infrastructure. Upon developing our technology, we immediately put it to test globally, and have already registered two years of success with the commercialization of the service.

When we first launched the technology as a global project, we were a non-profit organization. Several other players, including Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC),a non-profit organization providing Japanese domain management services, joined in the project - together with its counterparts in Korea, China, Singapore and other countries. Therefore, ours is the technology that is universal -- neither specializing in Japanese or Chinese language. We adopt the "Unicode" character coding so that our technology is not restricted to a single language but offers multilingual compatibility.

Because our technology is compatible with the current Domain Name System, our service is not only available through Web browsers but also through ftp clients, telnet clients and mailers (mail addresses in multilingual domain names).

Q3. How does your service process domain names that are entered multilingual?

A3. When you enter any domain name in any of the languages we support, our technology will convert the domain name entered into Unicode. The converted domain name will then be translated into an IP address by the Domain Name System, thereby allowing you to reach the Web site you wish to visit. There are two ways to get multilingual domain names entered into Unicode: one way is to process the character sets entered by users by our "i-BIND*" multilingual domain name system program, while the other is to process the input character sets using i-Client**" program installed on client PCs.

*The multilingual i-BIND has been developed by i-DNS.net based on the "BIND" program widely accepted by domain system services and is distributed by the company free-of-charge. The original BIND cannot accepts combinations of alphanumerical characters with some symbols.

** i-Client is a program developed and distributed by i-DNS.net free of charge. Similar in features to i-BIND, i-Client only converts multilingual domain names into Unicode-written domain names on the PC. A Windows-compatible program is available through a free download from the i-DNS.net website. The company is currently developing different versions for Macintosh, Linux and other operating systems.

If ISPs replace their currently used BIND with i-BIND, then all their subscribers will be allowed to use multilingual domain names while accessing the Internet. If users cannot use i-BIND, then they can get i-Client installed on their PCs, and this will immediately allow them to use multilingual domain names.

We currently support 55 different languages ranging from Japanese (JIS, Shift-JIS, and EUC), to Chinese (GB (simplified) and BIG5 (complicated), Korean, Arabic, Spanish, Russian, and even Thai and Hebrew. Because multilingual support services involve extremely delicate issues, we have a commitment to thoroughly study all language requirements in different countries and provide the appropriate support services.

We think that we have already solved all technical issues involving the Japanese language and that we are in the stage of winning consensus about language use. We will provide a service in Japan by respecting the rules and regulations established by JPNIC; for example, we will not accept domain names which may disturb public peace and good order, such as "Sekkusu.Kai-sha (means sex.com). "


A Goal of Acquiring 100,000 New Japanese Domain Name Registrations for the Initial Year of Service

Q4. Could you share your business model with us?

A4-1. We have no intention of doing everything on our own. On May 11, we issued a news release to announce our business strategy for Japan. We have already reached an agreement with ASCII Corporation, Crayfish Corporation and InterQ Corporation to provide multilingual domain name registrations and other related services in Japan. We will do not actually provide these services but these business partners will***. These companies each have their established infrastructure and know-how for a variety of Internet services, including domain name registration. We will provide the same services in other countries by appointing business partners. For example, our Korean partner is Samsung and our Hong Kong partner is Hong Kong Telecom.

Editorial note:
*** As of May 11, the company [i-DNS.net] had yet to sign a formal agreement with any of these companies, which did not make any announcement on anything about an alliance with the company for providing such services as mentioned above. Some media reports have said that the company would establish a new joint venture company with these companies, but the company confirmed that it was not true.

A4-2 (as Mr. Masashi Haeuchi of Business Development, i-DNS.net says): Our revenue source comes from "domain name registration fees" paid by corporate and individual customers who register their multilingual domain names. Put in a simple way, our business partners will collect registration fees from these customers and we will earn some of these fees.

Q5. How many new Japanese domain name registrations do you expect to acquire?

A5. We've set a goal to acquire 100,000 registrations by the end of this fiscal year. This figure does not mean that we will acquire registrations from 100,000 different organizations and individuals. Many companies are expected to have multiple registrations per company. They can register names by brand and use different names in Japanese hiragana, katakana and kanji per brand. We will accept registrations that will not be restricted to Japanese only. They can register names in all the languages we support. In Hong Kong and Singapore, where we have already the service in place, we have achieved 100,000 registrations in each country.


The i-DNS Service Compatible with the Internet Standard Technology

Q6. You need to gain wide acceptance of the i-Client and i-BIND programs in order to encourage users to use your multilingual domain name registration service. What is your specific plan for that?

A6. We will distribute these software programs both on our Web site and by working with our business partners. We aim to replace all BIND programs currently used over the Internet with the i-BIND program, to allow users to use our multilingual domain support services anytime and anywhere. We are a member of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), an organization that plays important roles to standardize technologies used over the Internet. We are also an old and active member of a working group of the Internationalized Domain Name System (i-DNS), to participate in studies on the i-DNS technology. We have developed the iBIND technology to be compatible with Internet standards and we believe that chances are high for our iBIND to be adopted as a future i-DNS standard. If another technology should be adopted as a new standard, we are confident in using our long-term and affluent experience to be able to quickly respond to market needs by ensuring our compatibility with that standard.

Q7. What are your future business plans?

A7. In the near future after launching the service in Japan, we will introduce a similar service in South Korea, and also plan to introduce the same in Israel, Middle East countries, Scandinavian countries, and Russia. Among the 55 languages that we support, six languages are strategically important languages for us; they are Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Spanish and Russian. Among others, we have identified Japan as the most important market, and therefore we plan to establish a Japanese corporation in June. In countries where these six languages are used, English is not a language commonly used. In other words, in Germany and the Netherlands, they have almost no problem with using English, while in Japan and China, English probably provides a barrier for children and senior citizens in particular to use Internet services. Thus, we will focus on these markets.

Technically speaking, if you can get your system to work well with two-byte languages, such as Japanese and Chinese, then you will find it much easier to get the system compatible with other non-English languages using alphabet characters. We believe that we will be able to cover 95% of the world population with the 55 language codes we support.

-- i-DNS.net shall not be held liable for the views and opinions of the authors expressed herein.
-- Translated Article
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