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Domain name observations from Australia

ccTLD pride and pricing dynamics.

Here are some observations from my recent vacation to Australia:

.com* rules!

Nearly all of the domain names I saw advertised in Australia were .com domain names. But they weren’t just .com domain names, they were .com.au country code domain names. I’d say about 95% of the domains I saw were .com.au, maybe 3% were just .com, and a couple percent were other top level domains.

Yep, Australians love their country code domain names. That’s pretty much the case wherever you travel, but it was quite pronounced down under.

One person pointed out to me that many .com.au owners also own the equivalent .com domain name and forward it to their main web site at the ccTLD.

Domains are cheap.

Australia is very expensive. The most obvious thing to a traveler from the United States is the cost of food, both at restaurants and grocery stores. In general I’d say it’s at least double that of the U.S. Some of this obviously has to do with historical exchange rates, and the Australian dollar is looking mighty fine these days.

But from a comparative standpoint this makes domain names — both registration prices and in the aftermarket — seem much cheaper to the average Australian than people in many other large countries.

Heck, I can register a new domain name for less than the price of a kids meal at lunch.

What does that mean for the market for .com.au domain names?

It’s an interesting question. I know several readers who have been bullish on the liberalization of .com.au domain names.

But there’s a key detail to keep in mind, as an expat friend currently working in Australia pointed out to me: Australia has the population of Texas over a landmass similar to the United States.

That creates an entirely different market dynamic than what I’m used to here in the states.

So I’ll leave it to Australian readers to tell me what the market for .com.au is like.

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  1. Aussie Domainer says

    Yes, I remember when I first went to America I was amazed at the prices of everything, food, clothes, movie tickets, events, it’s super cheap compared to back home. Sometimes my mouth still waters for another ‘everything bagel with cream cheese’.. wow.. you can’t get those in Australia! And for only a few bucks, what a nice breakfast treat haha. I’d fly back just for one of those alone!

    About .com.au- you’re right about how businesses here have taken it up. Almost all businesses here opt for the .com.au from what I can see.

    I however have never bought one. I’m just not interested in it as a domainer- one of the key reasons is, as you mentioned, Australia has a TINY population compared to other nations.
    Australia: 23 million people
    California: 37 million people
    So naturally the market you are selling too is much smaller.
    If you own the .com, you can sell it to people from almost any nation out there and it will have value- but if you have a .com.au you really are limited to a much smaller pool of interested parties. Of course, there are opportunities to make good money (I was temped once to buy the .com.au of a town name that was up for sale on Flippa) but I think it’s just easier to find buyers if you stick to .com.

  2. Graham Schreiber says

    The domain name ending for Australia is .au > only < as identified in IANA at: http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/au.html

    There is NO listing for .com.au unless it's being managed by VeriSign, the exclusive registry for .com as a domain name ending or classification, see IANA.

    If 95% of Australian businesses own their brand at .com; and pay a 2nd time for .com.au, I'd say somebody's making a good buck reselling the same identical steak, with an offering of blue cheese. Double vision?

    If this is the case, maybe my Colonial friends, Bruce & Sheila (Monty Python joke) are paying "double that of the U.S." because they're getting abused for their good natured ways.

    Fortunately my domain name does not resolve at abc123.COM.AU … and my browser when asking for abc123.au rolls into a Google search, with my domain on top, or I'd be "mad" about that too!

    Cheers, from the descendant of the little boy featured in "The Emperor's New Clothes".

  3. Joe says

    “But there’s a key detail to keep in mind, as an expat friend currently working in Australia pointed out to me: Australia has the population of Texas over a landmass similar to the United States.”

    I agree. After all the same could be said for Canada and its ccTLD.

  4. Graham Schreiber says

    Hi Joe:

    Cheerfully, I’d like to point out that Canada, is the LARGEST State in the Union; however, unlike Guam & Puerto Rico, we can’t vote in November.

    As of yet, I’ve not seen anybody here, or elsewhere, selling a .com.ca

    Regards, Graham.

  5. Graham Schreiber says

    Oh, OK, it makes no difference to me!

    However, it’s not listed as a ccNSO by ICANN, in the IANA Root.

    .ca = Canadian Internet Registry Association.
    .co.uk = Nominet.

    .com.au = No ‘legal’ IANA Registry operator.

    I’d encourage further investigation.

    Cheers Eh.

  6. David says

    One of the best aspects of .au and many cctlds is there is still opportunity for new Domainers coming into the industry.

    I started in 2006 bought/registered a few .coms lost money every time. But was able to get so much value from .au regs and purchases because there hadn’t been 10 years of 10s of 1,000s of professional Domainers squeezing out every chance to make a buck.

    It’s harder now no doubt for newcomers but still the odds of succeeding in .au are MUCH greater than jumping into .com. There are probably dozens of other countries with even greater chances.

    The market is smaller in Australia but everything is relative. There’s not necessarily a correlation between the size of a market and it’s profitability…

  7. Andrew says

    One important fact to remember is that many .com.au businesses are selling their product only in the Australian market and that G gives preference to the .com.au in results.

  8. Erwin says

    Make no mistake .com.au is very strong! Largely due to the fact there is tight control on who can own one (well at least that used to be the case)

    The last few years has seen a drop in .com.au yearly registrations making it more attractive for Aussie businesses to grab their name(s).
    Most big Aussie companies own their .com but many prefer to promote their .com.au instead

    Also an Aussie business tends to hold more credibility if they own both extensions- this is just my observation living here in Australia

  9. DnTv says

    I think you achieve a higher level of trust if you have the .com.au, only older businesses have a .com or worldwide businesses. The issue of population is a factor and it is easy to invest too much in the .com.au space but every day more and more people become aware of the branding value it offers. So at the end of the day just like everywhere else in the world it is speculating and there is no certain results guaranteed

  10. Nic says

    Key issue is increased exposure for investors.

    .com.au regime is “register *or* use” in bad faith, ie one or the other, not both.

    Secondly, registrants are “licensees” and not owners of a name, so “policy delete” revocations occur all the time.

  11. Nic says

    “Some of this obviously has to do with historical exchange rates, and the Australian dollar is looking mighty fine these days.”

    At issue for Australian “domain pros” who operate in a US$ economy is that income is half what was some years ago, ie because of *weak* US$ and strong AUD$.

  12. David says

    I’m not sure why this a surprise – research shows consumers prefer the ccTLD of their country. And it’s pretty consistent across many (western) countries. Maybe Americans need to get out more.

  13. Rob says

    “… this makes domain names … seem much cheaper to the average Australian”

    don’t think for a moment that domains are cheap cheap cheap for us just coz our dollar is high at the moment. as mentioned earlier in the article, the cost of living is just so much higher here – and that leaves much less in our pockets at the end of the day to spend on anything else. sadly, considering our remoteness from other countries we are being screwed here from all sides. when our dollar goes down we hear about all the impending price rises, but not drops in prices when the reverse occurs. the entire australian retail market is just plain gouging. eg itunes AU to US is about double per song. DVDs half price there. electronics much cheaper there, and to make things worse the rest of the world dumps their obsolete stock on us. pvc double glazed window 50 pounds in the UK, about $600-800 here. etc etc etc.

    i kind of detected a hint of “aussies can thus afford to pay a little more for domains” in the article… but alas, all is not as it seems in the ass end of the world! while the media spread their propaganda about what a great country australia is, it is a far cry from what it used to be. and going down fast.

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