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Dan McCullough
Guest Columnist

 

The Domain Industry's Sleeping Giant is Waking Up!

By Dan McCullough  Archived 11-19-03

The domain business used to be simple. Register a .com and go home or, if you wanted to be adventurous, you might pick up an occasional .net or .org for your portfolio. Not much to choose from so making a decision was easy. Today new extensions are muscling in on the marketplace and they are getting too big to ignore. 

The new growth in the world of domains is coming in the country code extensions (ccTLDs) with Germany leading the way. Its .DE extension has garnered nearly 6 million registrations (second only to .com and far ahead of #3 .net). 

While Germans and companies wanting to do business in Germany have been able to register .DE domains for a number of years now a country code counterpart for America, .US only became unrestricted and open to public use in April of 2002. 

While .US was restricted, only individual States, Government branches and educational providers were able to register .US domains. Neustar was awarded the contract to administer the .US registry and just 3 months after launch over 269,000 total registrations were on the books, including previously registered  restricted .US domains. By the end of the year 2002 registrations had nearly doubled, reaching 477,000 domains

Today, .US daily registrations usually total as many as two new Global TLD’s, .info and .biz, COMBINED. This growth will not only continue but is likely to surge this summer when Kids.us opens for registration. Kids.Us was created by Congress to give kids a relatively safe place to surf the internet. By law the government is required to heavily promote the Kids.US namespace and that publicity will undoubtedly raise the American public’s recognition and use of the .US extension.  

The restrictions for registering a Kids.Us domain will be extremely tight, but those that are allowed in will have instant access to a market of over 33 million kids in grades K-12 that are enrolled in American public schools.

Registrants will also have access to these children’s parents and if we assume each child has at least one parent, then we are looking at another market of 33 million people that will, at the very least, now be aware of Kids.Us and the parent .US domain. 

The promotional push required of the government was spelled out in the Kids.US bill that was recently signed into law by President George W. Bush: 

SEC. 5. EDUCATION AND OVERSIGHT. 

(a) EDUCATION- The Secretary of Commerce, acting through the National

Telecommunications and Information Administration, shall carry out a program to publicize the availability of the new domain and to educate the parents of minors regarding the process for utilizing the domain in combination and coordination with hardware and software technologies that provide for filtering or blocking of unsuitable content. The program under this subsection shall be commenced not later than 30 days after the date that the new domain first becomes operational and accessible by the public." 

In layman’s terms, nearly 70 million US children and parents will be “educated” about .US by law. This is a huge advantage that .Info or .Biz do not have. There is no doubt that these eyeballs are going to find .US sites as this “educational” process includes using Kids.US sites as resources in the classroom every day. This generation of American children will identify the internet with dot .US (much as today’s adults identify the internet with .com). Parents will not imprinted with .US as immediately the children will, but will still become  aware that the web is much more than .com almost overnight. 

Companies world wide will want to register their company names and keyword names in the Kids.Us and .US name space as the realization of exactly what this bill means hits home. No one will ignore a CAPTIVE audience of no less than 33 million people. This can be seen when you look at the many companies and associations participating in Neustar’s request for public input on ideas of how they should proceed with Kids.US.  

The Toy Industry Association’s input is of special interest. According to the TIA, they represent over “250  manufacturers of  toy’s and games whose aggregate sales at the retail level reach $25 billion annually”. It is clear that there is no lack of interest and that the interest is substantial. All of this will fuel the initial exposure of .US to millions of Americans almost overnight. 

The speculation in .US domains has already begun and will grow in leaps and bounds as Kids.US is implemented. When the marketing mandated by law raises the awareness of .US among business leaders their children will define markets they will must enter to remain competitive.  

For the same reasons, we see companies world wide implementing a policy recognizing the importance of registering the country code extension of each country they want to do business in. Most major companies already have or will register .US  Suzuki realizes if it is to reach the German market .com isn’t enough, they need an address that shows local representation hence Suzuki.de or why Philips, a Dutch company, can be found in Ireland as Philips.ie or Germany (on .de) or Italy (on .it) etc. 

Even in the midst of an economic slowdown, it is obvious how important it is going to be for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of companies large and small to have a .US website to reach the largest open market on earth and the only remaining superpower. 

We are seeing a move away from one size fits all domain extensions like .com and a maturity of online business coming to terms with the fact that one of the easiest ways to reach a market is to become part of its community. That begins with registering a domain extension that fits the country and a website that fits the culture. 

We are just at the beginning of that process for .US, leaving plenty of opportunities for millions of businesses, individuals and speculators to profit in this new boom. Keeping an eye on the rollout for Kids.US and other news in the .US extension could pay off handsomely in the months ahead. 

 

Dan McCullough is a domain name dealer and developer. His sites include AirlineTickets.ws  and ConventionCenters.us  to name just two.

E-Mail us if you have any comments about Dan's article.

 

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