I’ve been following along on the reported numbers of registrations for new gTLD domain names. Earlier this morning, I shared my thoughts on what sunrise registrations might mean. According to Domain Incite, as of March 5, there were just over 200,000 domain names registered in the new gTLD extensions (As Kevin comments below, this figure doesn’t include brands protected with Donuts’ DPML).
This is a lighter number than I anticipated would be registered by this time. My anticipation isn’t based on anything more than a gut feel I had along with an assumption that there would be more companies looking for “brand protection.” I don’t know for sure if this number is lower than the domain registries anticipated and projected, but I have a feeling the registration numbers aren’t as strong as many hoped.
Despite this, I don’t think these numbers are all that critical at this juncture. Yes, I am sure the registries would have loved to get more revenue at the outset, but I would imagine most are looking at the new TLDs as a long term play. It’s going to take time for companies and people to learn about these domain names, and suffice it to say, domain names aren’t a high priority for many businesses who may only care about their domain names when they are renewing them and when they need to buy a new domain name for a business or special project.
If this trend continues over the long term, it may not bode well for some registries, especially niche registries that may not have great expectations as is. Break even and profitability for individual registries isn’t a huge number, but if they didn’t (or don’t) get as many defensive registrations as they predicted, it’s probably going to throw off projections and make it more challenging to reach break even and profitability.
For most registries, especially those whose extensions have a big footprint and potential user base, I think it’s still far too early to offer any accurate prediction of success or failure based on the numbers that are being reported at this point. From my perspective as an observer, the most critical aspect for registries is the development and usage of their domain names, which will contribute to awareness and growth. As evidenced by the growth of .CO, if people use the domain names, the money will continue to flow.
While the number of registrations may not appear to be strong at the outset, especially compared to previous TLD launches (.XXX, .CO, .EU…etc), I think it’s too early to determine how things will go in the long term.