China to overtake US in Web users … next month

According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China is poised to overtake the US in Web users very, very shortly. Here is a news article.

CNNIC says that China now has 210 million Web users, an increase of more than 73 million over the past year. These are staggering growth figures and it’s safe to project that China will overtake the US, which is hovering around 215 million Web users, sometime late next month.

When it does, I’m sure the CNNIC will be the first to announce it.

Now the race is on for companies to localize their Web sites for these 210 million Web users, like Starwood, which is ahead of many of its competitors.

What more can you say? When it comes to potential Web users, China has a lot more headroom than the US. What we’re seeing transpire was inevitable, though the timing is much faster than many of us (me included) would have predicted.

And India could one day surpass China’s numbers.

PS: I visited the CNNIC Web site to read the press release, but they hadn’t translated any English-language content since last year. So I went to the source, the Chinese-language site, and used Google Translate to read their press release. Check it out for yourself — and I must say that the quality of Google’s machine translations since it started using its own statistical machine translation software has improved considerably.

Starwood Hotels broadens Chinese Web support

Starwood logo china

Starwood Hotels has announced that it has launched Chinese-language Web sites for all of its hotel brands — from Westin to Sheraton to St. Regis.

The hotel chain had previously offered varying levels of Chinese support across its hotel brands but has definitely made a big step forward. The room-booking engine is in Chinese as are customer support tools.

China is Starwood’s fastest-growing market and only getting bigger. The company manages 40 hotels in China with an additional 40 under development. According to their press release, “In 2006, the market size for hotel bookings in China reached US$121 million and around 40% of this revenue was contributed by five-star hotels. By 2010, the market size for hotel online booking will hit US$347 million.”

Starwood was ranked the best global hotel Web site in our 2007 Web Globalization Report Card and thanks to efforts such as this appears poised to do well in the 2008 report.

One million .CN registrations in just one month

That’s right. According to the latest stats from China’s registry, roughly one million .cn domains were registered between September 1 and October 1.

That brings the grand total to 7.1 million .cn domains that have been registered thus far, and counting.

As country code (ccTLD) registrations go, Germany is number one, with 11.1 million .de registrations. China is number two, but not for much longer. I had conservatively estimated that China would surpass Germany by 2010.

But now it looks like China will be number one in 2008.

What explains this sudden explosion in domain name registrations? A lot of factors have come into play — from foreign companies launching local Web sites (and protecting brand names) to the fact that .cn registration fees were recently made more affordable to small businesses and individuals within China.

If you want a list of the top 10 ccTLDs, check out our brand new Country Codes of the World map.