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The fate of .travel, .aero, .pro, .museum and more

A look at domain registrations for some of the less well known top level domains.

A lot of people point to the results of .aero, .museum, etc. as proof that new top level domains will be failures.

This isn’t a fair comparison as most of these domains were hampered with restrictions (sponsored TLDs) from the get-go, making it almost impossible they’d succeed.

But since people want to talk about numbers, here’s the latest official data on some of the more obscure and targeted top level domains. The most recent data made public by ICANN is from November.

120,610 domains (nameservers 217,329)
Biggest registrar – Hostway 43,492

(until recently the .pro registry was owned by the same group as Hostway)

26,686 domains
Biggest registrar – Encirca 8,634

438 domains
Biggest registrar – DomainBank 275

7,718 domains
Biggest registrar – NamesBeyond.com 1,929

51,845 domains
Biggest registrar – Nominalia 14,402

(frequently cited as a “success” for a community domain. It also generates > $1 million in annual registration fees)

9,470 domains
Biggest registrar – domains.coop 6,829

41,453 domains*
Biggest registrar – NameShare 34,683

(*Nameshare domains are basically registered by the registry, so really there are fewer than 7,000 domains)

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Reader Interactions


    Leave a Comment

    • Andrew Allemann

      @ Rob Sequin – .tel was at 280,502

      .tv, .me, and .co don’t have to file reports with ICANN. But according to HosterStats, .me around 600k. I think .co is around 1.3 million. Not sure about .tv.

  1. Kate

    The restrictions, along with pricing do not help for sure.

    But the lack of mindshare and exposure is also due to the fact that these extensions are generally not carried by mainstream registrars.

    Restrictions on .pro have been loosened but not going to make a huge difference really. Growth rates are much higher in other, more established extensions.

    Last but not least, these extensions have failed for a reason.
    They are not needed…

  2. GarotoK

    Well, let me ask this: Do you think any of these would have succeeded with absolutely no restrictions?

    I personally don’t think they would have, at least not these particular ones.

    • Andrew Allemann

      @ GarotoK – .travel and .jobs would have gotten lots of registrations. Don’t know how you’re defining success, but I think they could have been nicely profitable registries.

  3. Charles Lowe

    It has nothing to do with the value of the extension or its need. It’s all in the marketing. If you’re old enough to remember Pet Rocks then you’ve seen the power of marketing. Promote! Promote! Promote!

  4. theo

    Now are these registries money or are they loosing money ?
    It is clear that .Aero for example is not a domainers TLD so to speak.
    But if they make enough cash .. is it a failure ?

    .Travel seems tobe exactly doing what it shouldbe doing.. Tobe a TLD for travel agencies.

  5. Kate

    As long as the registries are in the black it could indeed be argued that they have not failed.

    I think it’s more a failure for the registrants, because these extensions enjoy limited recognition. People normally don’t register an alt TLD by choice, but because their choice of domain is already taken in the prime extension(s), and they don’t want to spend money on the aftermarket.

    .travel has been nearly bankrupt at some point.
    With Icann plans to roll out hundreds, possibly thousands of new TLDs you can expect that registry failures will become more common in the future.

    Obviously end users are reluctant to build their business on an extension that is unproven and that could even shut down after a few years.

    Not to mention that from a branding POV it’s hard to run business on a TLD people are not familiar with. In America .com is deeply ingrained, while in other countries the ccTLDs tend to dominate.

    What we also know is that industry-specific have not been successful, because they have not been embraced by the industries they purport to represent.
    .travel .aero, .jobs, .mobi too are examples.

  6. Tom Barrett

    The real issue has been that of meeting expectations.

    The expectations of these new gTLDs was completely unreasonable. For example, check out the forecast for .Name.

    Many of the new gTLDs will be similar in size to these…and there is nothing wrong with this. And they can be profitable as well and serve their communities.


  7. John Berryhill

    I agree with Tom. Part of our picture of what constitutes “success” is itself a result of the artificial constriction of “everything into .com”.

    Is “888” as a toll-free dialing code a “success” because it is not as populated as “800”?

    Now, we do live with things like ten-digit telephone numbers in the US, while in other countries the number of digits in a telephone number vary wildly. The only reasons we have ten digit telephone numbers is a consequence of electromechanical selector switches that used to be triggered by the dialing pulses produced by rotary telephones. Those went out with, I think, the SS7 switches that were phasing in during the 1970’s.

    But, still, if you confront a US telephone user with anything other than a ten digit number, or a seven digit local number, they will assume something is wrong or missing. Even though the technological basis for the NANP is obsolete, the psychological basis for perception of “correct telephone numbers” is more persistent.

    But if someone can make a go of a registry that, for whatever reason, makes $100,000 from 10,000 $10 names, and costs less than $50,000 a year to run, that sounds like a win to me.

    How does the readership of DomainNameWire stack up against the circulation of the New York Times? Failure?

    • Andrew Allemann

      I agree that many registries are successful for their owners even if other people don’t view them as a success. Would I like to have the .info or .biz registry? Absolutely. They make money.

  8. .FAIL anyone?

    Hey you forgot .biz and .mobi. I would also add .info to the list, but suspect it’s enrollment is artificially inflated with spammers who use the $0.99 domains to send out spam and then abandon the disposable name before getting traced.

    The above article seems like it should be labeled “Exhibit A, B AND C” as to why the upcoming gtld rollout will fail. Surely, they were not too long in length. Some, like .tel, .pro and .cat were very reasonable at only 3 characters. Surely it was not because they lacked significant industries (travel is one of the laegest industries on the net!). I don’t think it was because there is no need for additional new domains (there certainly is!)

    So what is it, then?

    What I propose as a reason is that, after 25 years of constant bombardment of .com, .com, .com, who would want to brand their product with anything else? It’s like spitting into the wind.

    As we are recently learning from the WIPO documents filed in the case against Rick Schwartz, the leakage from an alternative tld to a .com is tremendous. The plaintiff estimated it at a whopping 82%.

    Going with any other tld is not wise, as purchasers of the new gtlds are about to discover. They say a fool and his money are soon parted. Well, we will soon get to see that phenomenon take place right before our eyes when some crazy cowboys with more money than brains rush in and grab a bunch of tld–, all of which will ultimately end up just like the ones listed above.

  9. gpmgroup

    I think success is where names are equitably distributed and ultimately end up with people who add value and richness to the Internet.

    I don’t think creating a series founders programs where names are sold even before a sunrise to a small group of individuals who are able to quickly secure a handful of high profile greater fool trades which the registry can then use benchmark other sales is either a scalable or sensible solution to improving the DNS.

    ICANN it seems, is likely to be sorely remiss in this area and sadly it is probably an inevitable failing of the multi-stake holder model.

    It’s easy to argue this doesn’t matter and the market should be allowed to take what ever money people offer, however there are consequences.

    For example:

    Money siphoned off into speculative bubbles will be squandered and provide few tangible benefits.

    The cost of policing all the growth with compliance empires and government involvement will fall primarily to existing registrants.

    The increased rules and powers demanded by IP rights holders and their lawyers will mean innocent registrants loose their rightfully owned property.

    Those who hold existing monopoly positions (through the fact that names are aren’t substitutable)will be able to argue that they should no longer be subject to price caps, or looser ones at least.

    So lets hope all the promised benefits prove to be worth more than the promised SEO benefits LOL.

  10. Gerry

    I see absolutely no difference between the numerous tld failures itemized in the article above and the generic tlds that are about to be rolled out.

    Oh, perhaps one — the many of the above were officially sponsored by ICANN so there was no worry about them going out of business whereas the new gtlds can move out in the middle of the night leaving you with a worthless web business based on a no longer supported tld.

    Um…yeah right, sign me up for one of those. I agree that there is a huge train wreck ahead.

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