Domain Pulse 2013: GFC, Maturing Markets, Lead To Domain Registration Growth Slowing

Domain Pulse conference logoMaturing domain name markets and the global financial crisis have both impacted on the registration growth within the German speaking countries in Europe as well as elsewhere Mathew Zook of Zooknic told the Domain Pulse conference last week.

However this does not mean registrations have declined, as they are still growing strongly and would be the envy of any other industry or economy. It is just not growing as strongly as they have previously. Growth could be compared to the Chinese economy, which was rocketing along until the GFC hit, but then still continued to grow at a rate that was the envy of almost every other country.

Overall across the world Zook has observed through his research that yearly growth rates have been declining over time due to maturing markets, high penetration rates for internet use and it becoming harder to find good domains. As the GFC hit, registration growth was slowed a bit more. But as the global economy is improving, Zook has observed so are registration growth rates.

But the pattern observed by Zook is inconsistent as registrations are growing more strongly in some markets. Over the last ten years the fastest growth has occurred in ccTLDs such as in .in (India), .cn (China), .tk (Tokelau, which gives away its domains for free) and .co (Colombia). But within the German speaking countries that co-host Domain Pulse, growth has been slower. However it should also be noted these are more mature markets.

An example of a maturing market is .de which has expanded by 2.5 times over the last ten years and remains the world’s largest ccTLD and second largest TLD, but overall share has shrunk due to the expansion of other TLDs.

One market that has grown strongly in recent years and which is a mature market is .fr (France). However this is likely to be largely explained by the liberalisation of registration policies.

Domain registrations also increase the more computers there are connected to the internet, Zook also told Domain Pulse, which was also fairly constant over time.

Speaking of new TLDs, a focus of this year’s Domain Pulse, Zook believes they can be successful. Those TLDs that will be open for public registrations may face an uphill battle getting noticed with registrars reluctant to add new and unknown TLDs to their “shelf space.” But Zook cites the examples of .me (Montenegro), .co and .tk, all successfully relaunched in recent years as defacto gTLDs, to show that they can work.

Zook also believes new TLDs are not likely to have a significant impact and they may be complementary to rather than a substitution for existing registrations.