Country codes are maturing — but not retiring

globe_cctlds

Country codes are still adding registrations but the more developed markets are seeing a decline in growth rate.

Shown below is a visual from the registry behind the .FR domain:

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 7.39.58 PM

Of course, AFNIC is keen to point out that the growth rate for country codes is still much higher than “legacy” domains like .com and .net.

And this is true. Country codes are still growing, just not as quickly as registrars would like.

Some experts say that the flood of new top-level domains has negatively impacted country codes.

These new domains include regional domains such as:

Dot London

And:

dot-nyc

As well as more generic domain names:

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 5.43.33 PM

To name just a few.

Honestly, all these new domains are overwhelming. But I do not believe they negative impact country codes.
In fact, my research shows that global brands are actually migrating away from using the .com domain for all markets to using country codes for specific markets.

I’ve also noticed that a few new TLD owners now wish to use country codes as second-level domains.

SONY is one such brand domain. Even though Sony has no intention of opening its domain to the public it wants to use country codes internally. So, in theory, a Sony German website would be located at http://de.sony.

This is all theoretical at this point as ICANN has not yet released country codes to Sony.

But the very fact that this is a looming issue points to the utility of country codes.

Internet users understand country codes. Country codes are not going away anytime soon, just evolving into new usage scenarios.

But back to the question of why domain growth rates are declining.

Mobile is the real culprit here. I know of a number of mobile startups that could care less about registering country codes — because their services exist within the app itself. An Internet presence is a mere formality for these companies.

In addition, Facebook continues on its quest to swallow the Internet. And it will gladly help companies host all of their content within Facebook’s walls — country codes, who needs ’em?

But I do not think Facebook will swallow the Internet. I also think hosting your own website (and relevant country codes) is the best way to control your destiny — and smart virtual real estate to own. That’s not to say walled gardens such as Facebook and iOS aren’t worth playing in, but always keep in mind that you’re playing by someone else’s rules. And these rules can (and do) change.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.