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New TLDs: generic TLDs impacted
At month-end September, the contribution of "traditional" generic TLDs (.com, .biz, .info, etc.) to net market growth in 2014 was 45% against 75% in March 2014.
The massive influx of new TLDs on the market has raised a number of questions since 2012. How would the hundreds of new TLDs impact the existing ones? Would the reputation they have built up over the years be strong enough for them to resist the newcomers? To what degree would disposals between "traditional" and new TLDs have an effect?
Studying the contribution of the three main TLD categories to net market growth calculated at the end of each month from March to September 2014 has proved highly instructive.
The three main categories are:
- nTLDs: TLDs created since the end of 2013 and introduced to the market as of the onset of 2014; as of September 2014, there were 408 nTLDs;
- gTLDs or "legacy TLDs": all 18 of them are generic TLDs created between 1985 and 2011. This category includes the .com, .net, .biz, .info, .org TLDs, to name the best-known;
- ccTLDs (country-code top level domains): these are geographic TLDs for national territories, e.g. .fr for France, .re for Reunion Island, .de for Germany, etc. There are approximately 270 ccTLDs to date, as the list varies according to the changes made to the ISO 3166-1 table. For our study, we considered 32 ccTLDs of more than 500,000 domain names, which represent almost 90% of the domains registered for a fee under geographic TLDs.
In all, ccTLDs represent approximately 44.5% of all the domain names registered in the world at month-end September 2014, against 54.5% for gTLDs. nTLDs only represented about 1%.
The histogram below highlights the fact that the contribution of ccTLDs, though moderate, rose from 10% in March to 27% in September 2014, and the figures that show that ccTLDs are not significantly affected by the new TLDs. The latter naturally underwent a very strong increase in 2014 due to their massive introduction to the market, rising from 17% of net growth to 35% at month-end September. The remainder, i.e. the contribution of gTLDs, still represents most of the net growth, while having significantly decreased from 75% to 38%.
Note: for gTLDs, the figures for June to September are extrapolations of ICANN data available until month-end May 2014; for nTLDs, we used ICANN reports up to the end of May, and data supplied by Ntldstats.com from June to September; for ccTLDs, we used statistics supplied by CENTR and others published on the websites of the various registries.
The visual effect provided by the diagram is even more telling than the figures: while they remain "heavyweights", the impact of the competition of new TLDs on gTLDs is significantly higher than on ccTLDs. This can be explained by various factors:
- the status of the various gTLDs is highly contrasted, since some have succeeded in finding a market and securing its loyalty, while the others are hit hard by the disposals carried out in favor of nTLDs by domainers and trademark holders who are "cleansing" their portfolios by deleting defensive domain names that are considered useless;
- on the other hand, this competition is unfavorable to gTLDs, inasmuch as they are fee-paying domains, whereas the nTLDs with the highest volumes are often boosted by aggressive promotional strategies (free of charge), sometimes even by their respective registries carrying out massive registrations through their own subsidiary registrars. As a result, this volume-based phenomenon reflected by the histogram above is partially distorted, and may be mitigated, if strategies offering domains free of charge or almost free of charge disappear;
- gTLDs that favored strategies encouraging domain name creations without seeking to consolidate their renewal rates are particularly vulnerable to nTLDs, which are impacting them both in terms of domain creations and renewals. This may be wherein the greatest strength of ccTLDs lies, most of which have renewal rates that are relatively higher than those of gTLDs. Although the momentum in domain creations for ccTLDs is certainly being affected by the upsurge in competition, the portfolios of domain names have been built over time by domain holders who have voluntarily opted for their country-code TLD, to which they attach an importance that a bargain price cannot easily compromise. This kind of loyalty demonstrated by domain holders is probably the best defense that ccTLDs have against new TLDs.
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