The first in a multi-part story about the geography of new TLD registrants.
Who registers domains? It’s a question we might answer in a thousand various ways. One approach is to examine geography. Where do most registrations come from? Who are the “registrant nations”? Who sits idly on the sidelines? Which countries favor which TLDs? How strongly? Why?
Painting this picture will take me several articles. Here is the first. I’ll be analyzing only nTLDs – the new domain endings released since 2014. This study is reliant on raw data from nTLDStats, though most of what you find here you won’t find there. Country information is derived from whois records – i.e. from the mailing address volunteered by each registrant.
It isn’t enough to be told that China and the USA are the largest registrant nations. Of course, we’d expect that. They’re big. They dominate the domain market. (China has been grabbing my headlines since 2014.) No, what we want to know is whatever we wouldn’t expect – what details weren’t always a foregone conclusion.
From nTLDStats, we learn that these 2 superpowers between them account for more than half of all registered nTLD domains: China at 44%; the USA at 10%. But knowing that isn’t enough. We need some benchmark to measure against. Is 44% higher or lower than China’s due? What about 10% for the United States? Seems a poor showing, given the overwhelming preponderance of English keywords among the new extensions. If registries were banking on a large American footprint, did they fall short?
Let’s connect registration volume with each country’s online population. This way, we can gauge what’s abnormally high or low; and we can compare big countries with smaller.
|#||Country||Domains||% Share 1||% Share 2||% Users||Over|
OK. I’d better explain. At first glance, nTLDStats lists the top 50 countries by nTLD registration volume. On closer inspection, it’s only 49. There’s a gap: China is #1 while the USA is #3. What’s going on? Why, it turns out 27.3% of all nTLD domains are masked by whois privacy. With country data unknown in more than 1/4 of cases, we can’t declare precisely how many domains are registered in China or the USA or anywhere else. But clearly China accounts for much more than 44% of nTLD registrations. Among domains without privacy, where country info is exposed, China’s share is 60.6%; and the USA claims 14% not 10%. (That illustrates the difference between the 2 columns above, “% Share 1” and “% Share 2”.) Together, these 2 giants own 3/4 of all visible nTLD domains.
Next, you’ll notice each nation as a fraction of the world’s internet users (“% Users”). Large as it is, China constitutes only 21.4% of people who go online. Hence China is overrepresented among nTLD registrations by a factor of 2.83 (“Over”). Likewise, the United States comprises 13.9% of nTLD domains, though it contains only 7.4% of global web users; so, in a sense, the USA is roughly twice as interested in buying nTLDs as might be expected.
This begs the question: For which countries is nTLD presence most exaggerated? Answer: Small territories that are home base to large domain industry companies: the Caymans (0.17%) with Uniregistry, Gibraltar (0.14%) with AlpNames, and the Cocos Islands (0.07%) with .CC … and only 596 inhabitants. Yet their share, however outsized, is minuscule. Scraped together, this trio owns fewer than 1 in 200 nTLD domains without whois privacy.
New Zealand is overrepresented by a factor of 9 and currently owns more than 1% of visible nTLD domains. That’s bizarre but explicable. Almost all of those (92%) are .KIWI. And .KIWI domains were registered in the hundreds of thousands quite recently as part of a controversial registry promotion. After New Zealand, the next most overrepresented countries are (in descending order) China; Armenia; Panama; the Netherlands; the USA; and the German-speaking cluster of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.
Here’s another way to look at things: internet users per nTLD domain registered (“Users Per”). In the United States, 1 nTLD has been registered for every 86 connected citizens. China has 1 nTLD domain per 57 people online. New Zealand’s glut puts the ratio at 18 kiwis per .KIWI. Meanwhile, there’s just 1 nTLD domain in India for every 1784 potential online visitors. And Mexico, most of all, has spurned the nTLDs, with only 1 domain per 2994 Mexicans.
|#||Country||Rank Users||Users Per|
Above, you’ll see each country ranked both by nTLD registrations (“#”) and by the number of internet users (“Rank Users”). Thus, although India is second only to China in terms of citizens online, India’s nTLD footprint ranks only 10th. Among nations large and active enough to appear in the top 49 by nTLD registrations, the 3 proportionately most underrepresented – or, at any rate, least interested in buying nTLDs – are Mexico, India, and Brazil. A fascinating discrepancy, I think … worth more research.
Want a thumb rule for a country’s proportional nTLD footprint? Here you go! New Zealand = 9. China = 3. USA = 2. Netherlands = 2. German speaking = 1.5. UK / Canada / Australia = 1. Brazil = 1/10. India = 1/10. Mexico = 1/20.
To be continued…