This weekend New gTLDs reached 2 million domain name registrations as anyone can see at ntldstats.com. 2,012,434 domains to be exact was the first number above the 2 million mark. But should anybody care about this “landmark”?
It is almost 7 months since the first New gTLD string launched. New gTLDs reached 1 million registrations on the 6th of June 2014 after a little over 5 months.
But is the 2 million number correct and true and should anybody really care about raw numbers? Maybe yes, maybe not…
First of all there are a lot of problems with the numbers reported. Domain name registrations are counted using zone files. If you look at the top 10 New gTLDs only about half of the strings report domain name numbers that are completely true and paid registrations.
For example the supposedly number 1 New gTLD .xyz has “forcibly donated” (I don’t really know how to describe the process of force registering free domains to unsuspecting people) more than 370,000 domains to Network Solutions customers that didn’t want the domains and most of them don’t even know they have them. They did it using a promotion where the customer had to opt out of getting the free domain name. They are also running other promotions such as the one at Hover selling .xyz domains at $5 each. They are pumping the numbers hard so they can reach the 1 million mark and brag about it to people that are outside the domain name industry.
.Berlin that is shown as the number 2 New gTLD has given out free domains to Berlin residents and then the registry ran a promotion for 3 days giving out free domains to anyone. The promotion was stopped before it was supposed to because it was exploited by a couple of companies.
Also there are other registries that have registered their reserved premium domains to shell companies they own because ICANN only allows them to have 100 registered domains but unlimited reserved domains. These domains now appear in the zone files as registered domains but were not actually bought by customers.
So the true domain name registrations number must be somewhere in the 1.5 million region today.
The real number 1 New gTLD in terms of registration numbers is .Club that is currently just shy of 100k domains with 98,624 fully paid registrations. They are the number 1 registry in terms of promoting and advertising their New gTLD and it shows.
The number 1 registrar is by far Go Daddy followed by Enom and it’s resellers such as Namecheap.com.
At this point I should mention that by counting only domain names that are in the zone files we may not be counting all the domains. Domain names that do not have nameservers assigned are inactive and do not appear in the zone files. I estimate this number to be about 1-2%. These are either domains that were not properly setup, that are not being used and even some that their owners are trying to hide. Either to hide their registration patterns from competitors or are just hiding their registrations because they use fake trademarks to register domain names in sunrise. You know who you are and so do I.
People should not only look at raw domain name registration numbers when trying to find out which New gTLDs are a success. A lot of these fake registrations numbers are often quoted by a couple of registries trying to sell hype to people that don’t know the inside story and by a few articles that are written by journalists outside the domain name investing circle.
We should mainly look at recognition and awareness at this point and of course adoption. Again I think that .Club is the winner so far.