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Where in the world is dot com?

I have just returned from a trip across several countries in Latin America and Europe and noticed a consistent trend – ccTLDs are dominating the visual space of major cities outside of the US. Yes, in the US dot com is king, but not for Argentina, Chile, Greece, nor Spain.

Argentina and Chile

In Argentina, .com.ar dominates almost completely in all forms of commercials and billboards that I saw. The local extension is very popular, even though it has had the limitation of not allowing second level registration (i.e. .ar).

The same popularity for the Chile domain extension can be seen throughout their capital, Santiago. Unlike Argentina, the most popular form of the domain is the direct second level domain. Dot com or any other domain extensions other than the .cl are almost non-existent.

Greece and Spain

At Greece I had the opportunity of visiting several places mainland, as well as several of their islands including all of the most popular ones. Again, the ccTLD .gr was by far the most dominant in all the places I visited. In Athens, I saw a few dot com addresses, but possibly no more than a 10%.

Finally, in Madrid and Barcelona I continued to see the same tendency as the other places. One significant difference was Barcelona – which might be indicative of what’s to come. The official extension in Barcelona was not the ccTLD .es. Rather, the gTLD of choice is .cat, which is short for Cataluña – the region Barcelona belongs to. Aside from the government using .cat as their official extension, and many businesses using .es, there was also a few .com and .info domain names used by businesses.

Conclusion

Important regions like Cataluña could push for having their own regional extensions (and they currently are), opening the opportunity to register domains under those new gTLDs. The new CEO of ICANN has expressed ICANN’s path towards the creation of new gTLDs.

“For example, the chief of the Zulu tribe, His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, recently sent a letter notifying us of his intent to register the dot-zulu domain name so that different but related businesses and other groups can be linked by their domain name to the entire Zulu community. According to His Majesty, “We believe that the .Zulu TLD, as conceived and proposed by the Dot Zulu Project Inc. represents the best interests of the Zulu community and will be able to provide a viable structure for us as an evolving community.” New York City and the city of Berlin have expressed a similar interest in their own domain names. It is impossible to imagine the possibilities that could occur when these and a multitude of other TLDs are opened.”

If we extrapolate from Barcelona, when trying to enter a local market outside of the US, descriptive or generic domain names including the region or country (Berlinicecreams.com) will most likely be less desirable or useful than the new forms of gTLDs covering those regions (icecreams.berlin). I can see a dot com as being more desirable if it is in the travel industry, where the visitors are not the locals, but rather a population of foreigners.

There are many countries out there that still have high value generics available for registration. There are also still relatively low prices for premium generics in the secondary market for some countries. However, one big impediment has been the management of these domains, scattered through multiple NICs all having their own particular ways of renewal. So, if you are willing to deal with that inconvenience, then ccTLDs and new regional gTLDs could be a good pocket of growth for Domain Investors.

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