One of the things I follow quite intently is growth in domain names – both internationally, but also especially in the .nz top level domain.
One of the reasons for my interest, is I am a director of .nz Registry Services that runs the register for the .nz TLD. But I am also interested in what they may mean generally for Internet uptake and more recently the health of the economy.
For the last six years or so, there has been almsot ever increasing growth in .nz domain name registrations.
As uou can see, the growth has been rather healthy. But in the last year, the market has changed. It is still growing, but by far less than before.
So annual growth in .nz names has dropped from over 50,000 to under 35,000 and still declining.
Looking at the last few years in terms of percentage annual growth, we hit 25% around two years ago, and it is now down to just 10%. Now 10% annual growth is still pretty good – many businesses would give their right arm for it. But it is interesti ng trying to work out why the growth has reduced so much.
Is it everyone is now connected? Is it the best names are all gone? Is it the recession? That’s some of the quesions I’m grappling with.
One interesting thing is that the drop in growth seems to be due to increased cancellations of existing names, than a large drop off in registrations of new names. So some of it may be speculators reducing their stocks. Or it may be businesses just rationalising their portfolios.
At the end of the day the cost of a domain name is insignificant to most customers. The wholesale fee is $1.50 a month. So how elastic or inelastic is the market I wonder?
The other interesting aspect is competition. If you want a .nz domain name you can choose from around 70 different registrars or retailers, but they all interface with the unique register (it is a naturaly monopoly because you can have only one authoritative register). But people can choose to get a .com, .net, .info etc. In some countries more registrants have a .com name than a .countrycode name. In NZ we have one of the higher country loyalties with most registrants having a .nz name over a .com.
If you are a domain name registrant, and you have been changing or reducing your “portfolio”, I’d be interested in any stories as to why.