Early registration for web addresses with Hebrew characters has started.
The change will allow companies and individuals to purchase web addresses completely in Hebrew. The Israeli daily Ha’aretz is also reporting that a new unnamed Hebrew suffix is set to be introduced to replace .com or the national Israeli domain name suffix .il.
Run by the Israeli Internet Association, early registration will last three months and priority given to established companies and non-profit organizations. Public registration will begin in December, 2010, and prices range from $18 to $23 per domain.
“I don’t see many Israeli companies adopting Hebrew characters for their web addresses – certainly companies that are interested in selling abroad wouldn’t consider such a thing, for obvious reasons,” David Shamah, a technology reporter for the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post told The Media Line. “Most Israelis do their surfing in English, and have a propensity/preference for that ‘abroad’ feeling.”
“Just take a walk in a typical mall here,” he continued. “How many stores actually have Hebrew names? I don’t see many sites ‘converting’ to Hebrew.”
Despite the lack of demand, Shamah said the initiative is not completely lost.
“There are several sectors that will adopt the new system: government sites which will probably be accessible at both their Hebrew and English addresses, along with educational sites aimed at children,” Shamah said. “In addition, I see a big market for creative websites or ad agencies mixing and matching between Hebrew and English terms/names as a gimmick.”
But Lisa Damast, Editor of the Israeli technology blog Israel Innovation 2.0, expressed some optimism about the idea.
“It’s possible that some people will switch and it will be good for Google searches in Hebrew,” Damast told The Media Line. “It will be useful for Israeli companies to have better communication with their clients.”
The decision to introduce web addresses in non-Latin characters was taken in November 2009 by Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the governing international body in charge of web domain names. Characters in Hebrew; Arabic, Mandarin Chinese and Cyrillic (the Russian alphabet) are all now available.
Before the decision last year, domain names were limited to the 26 characters of the Latin alphabet, as well as 10 numerals and the hyphen. But now up to 100,000 new characters are available, a fact technology analysts say will make the Internet significantly more accessible.
Meanwhile the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office has opened a Twitter account for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who asked that the account be used during his current trip to Washington for the beginning of direct peace talks.
‘Today, social media channels are more vital than ever for Israel’s public diplomacy efforts, for administrative transparency and for providing citizens with updated information,” the Prime Minster Office said in a statement.