Will .cn become the new .com?

I recently came across a chart of the most popular domain extensions, compiled by Stephane Van Gelder. Although I keep track of ccTLD registrations for the Country Codes of the World map, Stephane tracks all domains, including .com, .net., etc. And when I saw it I got to thinking…

Here’s a screen grab of the figures I want to focus on:

most popular domains

What makes this chart so interesting are the growth rates — .com is growing at 5% and .cn is growing at 18%. Granted, it’s easier to grow at 18% when you’ve only got 12 million registrations, compared with growing at 5% when you’ve got 76 million registrations.

But growth is growth and .cn is clearly on a roll.

And China has a lot of headroom for growth in terms of Web users and potential domain registrants. I am confident that .cn will reach 50 million registrations over the next 3 years.

At about that point in time, .com should be around 100 million registrants — in no danger of losing its number one status.

However, if the rate of growth of .com registrations were to decrease while .cn rate of growth continues to increase, it’s reasonable to wonder if we will one day see the number of .cn registrations surpass .com registrations?

I realize this is a far-fetched scenario.

After all, it’s reasonable to assume that companies that register .cn may also register .com — and the majority do just that.

But it’s certainly something to contemplate. And even if .cn never comes close to surpassing .com, the overall point I’d like to emphasize here is that .cn is now the world’s second most popular domain extention — and likely to remain that way for many years.

What do you think?

Kosovo requests ccTLD

Can an international crisis be started over a country code?

That’s what I can’t help but wonder when I read that Kosovo has requested its own country code domain.

Serbia (and it’s powerful backer Russia) do not accept Kosovo’s independence and are not going to be happy if Kosovo does get its own ccTLD. But ICANN may very well issue one if Kosovo meets certain criteria in the months ahead.

Keep in mind, you do not have to be a country in every sense of the word to have a country code. Antarctica (.aq) has one. So does Bouvet Island (.bv) — an uninhabited piece of land in the Atlantic.

Map of the World Wide Web: Get ’em while they last

Map of 180 country code TLDs

I’ve got about a hundred copies of this map remaining and I’m offering them for $3 each for orders of 25 or $2 each for orders of 50 (plus postage).

The map normally sells for $12 each, so this is a nice discount — and a great way to get your whole office a copy of this useful map.

Here are more details of the map:
http://bytelevel.com/map/map_of_WWW.html

Please note that this is a smaller version of the poster now being sold. It is designed to fit on a cubicle wall and displays 180 ccTLDs.

If you’re interested in purchasing, please contact me.

China now leads in Internet users (and country codes)

The NY Times reports that China has surpassed the US in terms of Internet users. This comes via China’s state-controlled  Internet Network Information Center. Here are the key numbers:

United States

220 million Internet users

70% penetration

China

253 million Internet users

19% penetration

For readers of this blog, this development is hardly news. But it’s significant nonetheless. After all, the US isn’t exactly going to catch back up in this regard. China wins the numbers game, at least when it comes to people.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from the article:

Baidu, for instance, said on Thursday that its second-quarter net profit had jumped 81 percent. During that period, Baidu had a 63 percent share of China’s search engine market, while Google had about 26 percent, with Yahoo trailing far behind, according to iResearch, a market research firm based in Beijing.

Tencent, a popular site for social networking and gaming, now has a stock market value of $15 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable Internet companies. In comparison, Amazon.com is valued at about $30 billion.

China also leads in having the world’s most popular country code (.cn).

The coming gTLD explosion (or not)

ICANN, the folks who manage Internet domains, recently decided to open up the generic top-level domain (gTLD) space to anyone who can afford it and can navigate ICANN’s complex approval process.

gTLDs are those domains to the right of the dot in the URL, such as .com and .biz. Currently there are 21 gTLDs. But going forward, there is no limit to the number of gTLDs that can be registered. A company could register one, a city could register one, even an individual.

The media are predicting a bewildering array of new gTLDs in the months ahead.

But I’m not so sure we’ll see such a domain land rush. For starters, the process and costs of getting approval for a new gTLD are going to eliminate only the most passionate (and well-funded) supporters.

In the near future, I do see domains such as .berlin (and other cities) and .sport (and other topical words) emerging.

The big question will be to what extent the corporate world participates in registering gTLDs. Will we see a .coke or .pepsi or .google emerge? Odds are pretty good that we’ll see a .google simply because Google can actually manage its domain fairly well. As for Coke or Pepsi, I’m not so sure. Which leads us to the need for third-party domain service providers who could help companies like Coke and Pepsi register and manage their gTLDs. I sense a nice business opportunity ahead.

The larger issue to emerge out of the recent ICANN meeting is the coming of IDNs, such as domain names in Cyrillic and Chinese. When the leaders of both China and Russia clamor for their own native-language URLs, you can be sure that they will become a reality. This too will be a messy process, but it is safe to see we will see non-Latin URLs in 2009.

Here are two articles that provide a good analysis of ICANN’s recent announcements: InformationWeek and CircleID.