In April of last year, I wrote about the somewhat lukewarm interest for the new top-level domains in Sweden. It has now been a year since then and I can note that interest is no longer lukewarm; instead, it’s ice-cold!
My reference site ntldstats.com indicates that there are currently 11,010 registered domain names (as of May 3, 2015) by Swedish individuals and companies in 295 new top-level domains. That is, on average, 37 domains per top-level domain. If we only count the 100 biggest new top-level domains, the average becomes 93 domains per new top-level domain.
Which, then, are the most popular top-level domains (more than 250 domains!) in Sweden?
- .club with 648 domains
- .email with 423 domains
- .tips with 410 domains
- .today with 355 domains
- .guru with 344 domains
- .gratis with 340 domains
- .xyz with 316 domains
- .rocks with 295 domains
I have compared the list with the situation a year ago and can note that .club is the “big winner.” Last year, .club was number six on the list. It has grown with almost 500 domain names in one year, or an average of 25 per month. Number two, .email, has grown on average with around 22 domain names per month. .guru, which was the most popular when I wrote last year, has only 150 more domain names than today.
The growth among all new top-level domains between March 1st and May 1st this year is around 550 domains per month, or around two domains per top-level domain and month.
What do all these numbers say? Exactly what I opened with. The market for new top-level domains is non-existent in Sweden and is not taking off. Then we must take into account that many top-level domains have not had their first renewals yet.
Why are the new top-level domains not successful?
Welcome to the real world
The new top-level domains are so-called late entrants in an established market. Every country already has its local top-level domains and in every country there are the big global players like .com and .org. To come into an established market that is also not growing 20 years later is not especially easy.
Nothing new under the sun
Nothing gets better if one doesn’t come up with anything new. It is hard to compete with price (domains are already cheap) or through rethinking distribution (most sell through ICANN accredited resellers). But one must come up with something new, otherwise one can never create a sustainable position.
Unfortunately, I have not seen anything new after a year of new top-level domains. A domain name is “just a type of telephone number” that needs other services like blogs, email or webpages. To be unique as a top-level domain, one might therefore need to combine and create packages. But a top-level domain administrator does usually not provide these sorts of services.
Where is Sweden?
Most of the new top-level domains are global players, trademarks with either regional or city focus, but none have Sweden as the target market. Why should a new player bet on Sweden? It is a relatively small market with few large accredited dealers. Would you put your marketing money in Sweden or Germany? Would you cooperate with big international dealers or with local players?
What will happen now?
The fact that most of the launches have not lived up to expectations means that we will see a first phase of focus and consolidation. Budgets need to be revised and a new business case needs to be presented for investors. This probably means more focus on larger markets and fewer registrars. New top-level domains will also reward more pure sales instead of payment for placing on webpages or in lists.
Some top-level domains will wait out the results of the first renewals before making a decision on whether it’s worth investing or selling. The first auctions of top-level domains have already taken place, and many more will likely follow.
But we have a joker left in Sweden. Soon, the top-level domain .stockholm is coming out. I don’t know if .stockholm will be open (where everyone can register a .stockholm domain) or if it will only be a domain for the city of Stockholm. It would be fun if it got a little action. At the same time, we would need to spend tax money to achieve it.
To be continued.