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Drain Of Domain-Name Pool Slows In January

by Steven Bonisteel

Rapid evaporation of the pool of Internet domain names at the end of 2001 appears to have abated in January, according to a report this week from the domain-registration watchers at SnapNames.

While the number of expired domains in the dot-com, dot-net and dot-org (CNO) space in January did not outstrip the number of new registrations as dramatically as just one month earlier, SnapNames said that address-registration leaders Verisign [NASDAQ:VRSN] and Register.com [NASDAQ:RCOM] continue to lose a disproportionate amount of ground to smaller competitors.

In fact, the company's "State of The Domain" report for February predicted that, by the final quarter of this year, New York-based Register.com will slip to third spot in the market among CNO registrars, being surpassed by the OpenSRS.net operation of Canada-based Tucows.

SnapNames, which has made a business out of scooping up expiring domain names for clients, said that VeriSign's registrar operations saw the total number of domains for which it collects fees drop by nearly 19 percent from August of 2001 through January of this year, losing its grip on nearly 2.7 million addresses.

But with nearly 11.7 million names on its books, VeriSign still towers over its closest competitors: Register.com, with more than 2.9 million domains at the end of January, and Tucows' OpenSRS.net, with nearly 2.7 million.

Since August, Register.com's stable of domain names has dropped by more than half a million, SnapNames said, while OpenSRS.net saw net registrations climb by nearly 200,000 despite the end-of-year decline for total CNO domain registrations.

The report said that the total number of CNO domains, which began dwindling in October, dropped by more than a million in December alone. But SnapNames said a huge share of that loss can be attributed to consumers who opted not to renew "promotional" domains that many registrars had once given away for free but which would cost money to keep.

In January, the total pool of registered domains lowered by just 250,000 addresses, the report said. But SnapNames also warned that early indications are that February's losses could be at least that size.

Over all of 2001, the number of dot-com addresses actually grew by about 1.6 percent, SnapNames said, suggesting that the dot-net and dot-org space "took the brunt of the promotional name deletions, since many of these were free names given away to registrants who held the corresponding .com domain."

SnapNames is at: http://www.snapnames.com .


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