Verisign’s .net gTLD has had a disappointing start to 2015, as its zone file dipped below 15 million domains for the first time since achieving the milestone.
As of last night, .net had 14,998,404 names in its zone, a daily dip of over 10,000 domains.
That’s down by about 200,000 names from the roughly 15.2 million it had in March 2014, the earliest count for which I have records.
The gTLD first passed 15 million in August 2013, according to a celebratory blog post at the time.
Verisign has previously blamed the “confusion” created by the launch of new gTLDs for the decline, which was inexorable in 2014.
In October, CEO James Bidzos told financial analysts that “.net may be more susceptible to that confusion that swirls around new gTLDs.”
My similar view is that the existence of new gTLDs is causing people to wake up to the fact that defensive or shopping cart up-sell .net registrations are now superfluous, and that the days of .net riding on big brother .com’s coat-tails may be numbered.
There are still about 31,000 dark .net domains — registered names not present in its zone file — according to Verisign.
At the end of August 2014, .net had 15,569,398 registered names, according to the most recent available ICANN registry report.