Although it seems hegemonic, the .COM is actually a minority in all the regions of the world, except in North America.
At the end of December 2018, the global domain name market represented some 330 million domain names, or year-over-year growth of 4.0%, vs. 1.2% in 2017.
The breakdown between the main TLDs is as follows:
- 176 million Legacy TLDs (.COM, .NET, .ORG etc.);
- 126 million ccTLDs (the so-called “geographic” domain name suffixes, corresponding to a territory or country);
- 7 million “new TLDs” created from 2014 onwards (nTLDs cover different segments including geoTLDs (.bhz, .paris, etc.), brand TLDs (.sncf), community TLDs and generic TLDs).
The main market trends in 2018
- With 142 million names, the .COM remains the market heavyweight. Its market share increased by 0.5 points in 2018, rising from 42.6% to 43.1%, as a result of a growth rate that increased sharply in 2018 (5.2% vs. 2.8% in 2017) .
- The “Other Legacy TLDs” suffered particularly badly in 2018, losing 6% in stock after the 2% of 2017.
- The nTLDs returned to growth in 2018, with a 15% increase in stock, although their market share is still low (8%) compared with .COM (43%) and ccTLDs (38%).
- The country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs), which experienced a significant slowdown in 2017, posted growth again in 2018, although it remained moderate: +3.4% in stock vs +2.9% in 2017. They represent 38% of the world market share.
However, the study reveals contrasting dynamics between the different regions of the globe: the strongest growth can be seen in Africa (+9%), in Latin America (+6%), and in Asia-Pacific which posted the highest growth rate overall (+12% vs 2% in 2017), which illustrates the rapid development of the Internet in these 3 areas.
Europe is the only region to have lost stock, even if the drop remained very limited (-1%). Note the good performance of the .FR which gained 139,000 names in 2018, and that of the .PT (Portugal) +111,000 names, while the .DE (Germany) lost 110,000 names, and the .RU (Russia) lost 350,000.
Although losing 2.4 points of market share, the European market is still dominant with 57% of domain names filed in ccTLDs (excluding the “pennies”*), followed by the Asia-Pacific region (31%).
The other three regions represent little more than 12% in all, which shows the low level of their ccTLDs and their high potential growth in the coming years.
The .COM: a contested leader
Afnic’s latest analysis highlights in particular the glaring disparities in the use of the .com. Although it is the world market leader, with 43% of market share, it is only predominant in North America where it represents 76% of domain names, a region which accounts for 33% of the world market (against 36% for Europe).
Does the future belong to ccTLDs?
Over and above the changes in the major segments of the domain name market (Legacy, ccTLD, nTLD), the interest of this new edition published by Afnic lies in its analysis of the breakdown of domain names worldwide. Originating in North America, the .COM developed with the Internet, until it became the embodiment of the net for users, especially American. But in the other regions, it is the so-called geographic domain extensions, the ccTLDs, which are most popular.
“These so-called geographic TLDs make sense for regions in which people are attached to notions of origin and traceability,” explains Pierre Bonis, CEO of Afnic.
In 2018, the .COM was the market leader with a 43% market share, followed by ccTLDs (excluding the “pennies”) with 42%. The other two segments, Other Legacy and nTLDs, accounted respectively for 10% and 5% of domain name filings worldwide.
More than ever, domain names are central to identity issues on the Internet. They are clearly not chosen at random. One of the main lessons learned about the new TLDs created from 2014 onwards is that the market takes time to adopt them, because doing so involves complex notions of recognition and trust that are built up over time.
“While the change in the nTLD utilization rate as a whole is still encouraging, having continuously improved since 2015, the share of unused and renewed names is decreasing. These data highlight the difficulty for new entrants to impose themselves faced with “cultural lenses” on the one hand giving priority to the notions of region and proximity, and on the other a global approach that overrides any specific “reductive” feature implied by the TLD suffix chosen,” concludes Pierre Bonis.
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*TLD that is free or sold at a very low price