Verisign has warned investors that the current boom in .com sales is largely coming from Chinese domainers and may not be sustainable.
The company has added an unprecedented 4.1 million domain in .com and .net so far during the fourth quarter.
“While there continues to be demand for domain names globally, the recent increased volume for Verisign’s top level domains, as well as top level domains of other registries, during the fourth quarter is coming largely through registrars in China,” the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
It listed several factors that are likely responsible for the sudden uptick, but warned that renewal rates are typically not great.
In the past, Verisign has discussed many factors that affect the demand for domain names, including, but not limited to economic, social, and regulatory conditions, Internet adoption, Internet penetration, and increasing e-commerce. In addition to these factors affecting demand, Verisign is also evaluating additional potential factors unique to China that may also be responsible for the recent increased volume of new registrations in China.
In no particular order, these potential factors, or combination of factors, could include, but may not be limited to, government initiatives in China to develop their online economy such as ‘Internet Plus;’ registry and registrar regulatory requirements; cultural influences such as the popularity of numeric domain names; increasing competition amongst Chinese registrars; potential increases in domain name investment activity; and recent capital markets volatility and access to capital in China.
Verisign cannot predict if or how long this increased pace of gross additions will continue and we cannot at this time predict what the renewal rate for these domain names will be. Verisign has noted in the past that renewal rates for domain names registered in emerging markets, such as China, have historically been lower than those registered in more developed markets.
It’s difficult to imagine that Chinese investors have managed to find four million unregistered domains worth keeping.
There are currently 123,497,852 domains in the .com zone file, according to Verisign’s web site.
Verisign is not the only registry that appears to be benefiting from a deluge of registrations from China.
XYZ.com has seen over 440,000 domains added to its .xyz zone file in the last three weeks, bringing its total to over 1.5 million, which appear to be largely coming through Chinese registrars.