When sale of a Pinyin domain name is reported in Chinese news, it is often described as 1-pin, 2-pin, etc. These terms indicates the number of Pinyin words in a domain name. The more pins a domain name has, the longer it becomes. So the question is: how many pins will Chinese companies go before loosing interest?
To answer this question, the companies on the 500 Most Valuable Chinese Brands I wrote about yesterday provide an excellent source because major brands are influential and what they do affect many companies in corporate China. So, I went through all the names on the list, checked the number of pins used in their company names, and summarized the result in the following table.
The result is clear. The most popular names are 2-pin, followed by 4-pin and then 3-pin. The popularity of 2-pin is quite cultural. There is even a Chinese saying: “good things come in pairs”. This also explain why 4-pin is more popular than 3-pin. If a company cannot have a name in 2-pin, the next logical step is to consider 4-pin. It’s also clear that there is little interest in 5-pin and beyond.
The implication to domain investors is that if you invest in Pinyin domain names, stick to 2- to 4-pin. Another observation is that because Chinese companies like to upgrade from Pinyin to acronym name (e.g. Jingdong.com to JD.com), we can also say that 2L to 4L are good, but 5L domain names and beyond are not suitable for end user companies.
Finally, are 1-pin (and therefore 1L) domain names worth less than other pins? Absolutely not. 1-pin names are very short and therefore very expensive for this fact alone. Often, a company has a 2-pin company name but uses a 1-pin domain name. For example, CheCheng (车城)is 2-pin but Che.com is only 1-pin. (Che.com was sold for more than $3m.)