While I am away for DomainFest Global, I asked a couple of industry friends to write guest posts for my blog. My preference was to write about something with which I am not familiar, to help me learn as well. Today’s guest post is from Jeff Behrendt of INForum.in, the leading Indian domain forum. As I mentioned previously, I don’t own any cctld domains, but after my honeymoon in Europe, I learned how widely used they are, and I think .in domain names are at the very top.
I think that for many domainers who got into the industry late, country code domains are an attractive investment. The development and use of many of these ccTLDs is at a similar stage to where .com was several years ago. Unlike hyped extensions such as .mobi or .asia, country code domains really have endusers who buy them and use them. Plus, many country code “brands” are widely marketed in their respective countries and appeal to people’s patriotic feelings.
I invest in several country code domains, but the one I am most excited about is India. After years of heavy restrictions, in 2005 the Indian domain space was liberalized and it became cheap, easy and open to people internationally to register Indian domains. Since then there has been rapid growth: in February 2005 there were about 75,000 Indian domains registered, in November 2006, there were about 200,000 registered, in June 2007 there were about 250,000 registered, and in February 2008 there were about 400,000 registered.
Several other things make me excited about Indian domains. The first is the low Internet penetration in India. Right now there are over 60 million Internet users in India, which sounds like a large number. However, Internet penetration is only 4% – compared to 72% in the US. This leaves room for incredible growth and indeed Internet penetration is growing rapidly.
Another exciting thing about Indian domains is the large population of India. With a population of over 1.1 billion people, over the next few years, there will be more Internet users in India than in the United States.
One other big advantage of investing in Indian domains is the fact that English is the main language of business and government in India. This makes it a lot easier for most Americans (and Canadian, Brits, Australians, etc) to invest in than most other country’s domains. It is important to be careful though – the English spoken in India is somewhat different than standard American English.
As well, it is still early days. It is still possible to spend some time doing research and hand registering a decent Indian domain. This makes it easier for new domainers to get started.
Finally, the economy in India is booming. While economic growth has slowed over the last year, as it has across the globe, there is no recession in India and the economy there continues to grow at rates faster than American boom times.
Even Godaddy has noticed all of this, and recently they started offering Indian domain registration.
If you do choose to invest in Indian domains, there are two main extensions that you can invest in: .in and .co.in. .co.in is the one that had been traditionally used until 2005. Since then .in has gained traction and appears to be the more popular of the two. I have found that both .in and .co.in domains receive type in traffic. However, reseller and end user sales tend to be dominated by .in.
It is harder to monetize Indian domains than .com domains. There is actually a fair bit of type in traffic received on quality Indian domains, and I have found that over time the type ins are increasing. However, the CPC from parking Indian domains is abysmally low. Many Indian domainers build out minisites on their domains. Ranking minisites in Google India is significantly easier (by an order of magnitude) than ranking in Google and can create a good source of traffic and revenue. As the Internet economy develops in Indian, the value of the traffic will increase.
You are not going to get rich overnight investing in Indian domains. Several of the domains that were registered in 2005 are now selling for low $x,xxx. Sales of Indian domains are gradually increasing over time. However, the market, both at the reseller and end user level, is not nearly as liquid as it is for .com domains. While I am seeing more and more interest by people looking to purchase Indian domains, I think that it is best to approach these investments as longer term investments.
All in all, if current trends continue, the future prospects for Indian domains are very bright. For anyone doing business in India – be it a small or medium sized business or the Indian branch of an international business – using a .in or .co.in domain is a logical choice. Over time, people in India are increasingly turning to this ccTLD, and there is still plenty of opportunity there for domainers.
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about Indian domains, feel free to join us at INForum.in, the Home of the Indian Domain Name Industry. We enjoy talking not only about Indian domains, but also about anything to do with Indian business, culture or the Internet in India. We have an active buy and sell marketplace as well.
Nice to see you over here.
I’m very confident in .IN domain. The fact that english is it’s second language give it a great plus.
In the same vein, I foresee a change in the way the search engines will deals with the extensions and periods in a domain. The rise of domain hacks will push that change. In this regards, I also see a great opportunity for indian domains as IN and COIN are both common words in english so a domain like Antique.co.in would be a great asset… or comeon.in for the matter.
i don’t have a specific comment re: india domain names.
i would, however, like to point out the indiscriminate and overuse of the phrase “as well” – why is this term so popular?
Is there any point to your comment or was it to make yourself feel good at the expense of the article writer? I don’t understand why people waste their valuable making such worthless comments.
you’re assuming my time is valuable…
i didn’t make fun of the article writer’s mother – i think most people have fairly thick skin – my comment/question was relatively innocuous – however, in the future i will restrict my comment(s) to the topic at hand.
apologies to you and the writer of the article.
Great article. I’m been reading your forum for some time and will be getting involved …as well. 🙂
As well 😀 I’d like to thank Elliot for publishing this!
Jeff, thanks for the great article. How can one protect oneself against getting generic .in domains taken away by local companies, such as the hotels.in case? Do you have any advice on this topic?
Can you elaborate:
“How can one protect oneself against getting generic .in domains taken away by local companies, such as the hotels.in case?”
Do you mean that hotels.in was stolen?
Hi Elliot & Jeff,
Great job Jeff & good on you Elliot for having guest writers when you can’t do a post yourself. Helps to spice things up a bit and have a different view of domaining from others.
I have been a Indian ccTLD investor since the beginning of 2007 and have close to 400 .co.in & .in one & two word generic domains.
I joined Jeff’s INForum.in mid 2007 and it has been of great help in getting use to the Indian domain space as many of the members are from India which helps with getting their viewpoint on how things are done there.
Every day I am researching and hand registering some great generic one & two word domain names that are relating to popular products or services in India & globally.
I always say that the internet is a numbers game and India has all the right numbers! As Jeff said with over 1.1 Billion people in the country it has huge room for growth over the next 5 to 10 years even if you did not count the large percentage of people who may not have the money to be on the internet. Cut the population in half and only work on 550 Million population and it is still 250 Million more than the US!
I say to other domainers, “ignore this sleeping giant at your peril” India will be one of the top three economic powers along with US & China its just a matter of time IMHO!
Under the INDRP (Indian equivalent of UDRP), the main requirement is that the domain name must be registered in good faith and with the intention to use the domain name for legitimate commercial reasons. That’s very similar to the UDRP.
In the Hotels.in case, there was a trademark on the term, the respondent was found to have no commercial purpose for registering the domain, and the respondent was found to have aggressively tried to sell the domain to the trademark holder.
To boot, and the final kiss of death in any legal case, the respondent was found to have made many misrepresentations to the Arbitrator.
I think that the take home points from that case are that if you are going to spend a lot of money on a domain, first check for trademarks. Second, it’s safer to put up a minisite than park a valuable domain. I’d say both of these are true of non-.in domains as well.
Also, Hotels.in was one of the earliest cases under the INDRP. IMHO, the reasoning in the decisions has improved considerably since then.
I got directed here from a link on inForum….great post. I am wondering if there are other blog posts/ forum discussion comparing the relative attractiveness of various ccTLD’s. Please let me know.
Nice post. Am from INDIA and would like to inform that atleast one person from Middle Class family of India has access to the internet from his/her office/home. And the Middle Class population of India is more then the whole population of USA.
English is the MAIN language of Business & Politics, you can see the interviews of all Cabinet Ministers of Ruling Govt. the speak in English. Few speak in domestic language to get appraised by their vote bank.
There are more then 1000 languages in India. As INDIA is growing, Indians has adopted ENGLISH very well many years ago.
South Indians don’t know the languages of North Indians
North Indians don’t know the languages of Eastern States
People from Eastern States of India don’t know the languages of South Indians. BUT Every INDIANS speak in ENGLISH in his/her office, even in Government Offices.
Access to Cable INTERNET is getting cheaper by every year. In 2001 It was INR 1200/- per month, now its only Rs.250/- per month. Hence more people have cable internet in their Homes. Even secondary school students.
There are many plus point I can write about India, Indians & its Economy but i’ll not bore you much!