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Domain name industry growth slowed by China crackdown

The massive slump in Chinese domain name registrations appears to have hit the overall domain name market significantly in the first quarter 2010, slowing its growth.

According to the latest VeriSign Domain Name Industry Brief, only one million net new domains were registered across all TLDs in the period, a paltry 0.6% increase.

There were about 193 million domains active at the end of March, up from 192 million at the start of the year.

A million might seem like a lot, until you consider that the market grew by 11 million domains in the fourth quarter and by three million in the first quarter of 2009.

The slump is certainly due to the rapid decline in .cn domains.

China’s ccTLD had about 13.4 million names at the end of last year, and only 8.8 million at the end of March. April’s numbers show the decline continued, with 8.5 million names registered.

The China drag has been caused by a combination of pricing and the Draconian new identification requirements the communist government placed on the registry, CNNIC.

Chinese registrants now have to present photo ID before they can register a domain.

VeriSign’s own .com/.net business did a decent trade in the quarter, up 7% compared to the same quarter last and 2.7% on December to 99.3 million names in total.

With registrations growing by 2.7 million per month, this means VeriSign already has more than 100 million names in its com/net database.

China domain name registrations plummeting

The Chinese ccTLD has lost almost four million domain name registrations since it implemented Draconian identification requirements last December.

According to CNNIC, the .cn manager, there were 9.53 million domains registered at the end of February, compared to 12.28 million in January and 13.45 million in December.

That’s a loss of 3.9 million domains since the new registration requirements were introduced mid-December.

The bulk of the loss appears to have come from pure .cn names, which dropped from 8.61 million in December to 6.14 million in February.

The .com.cn namespace lost about half a million names over the same period. The rest of the drop-off came in lesser-used second-level domains such a .org.cn.

Since December 14, CNNIC has required all Chinese registrants to provide photo ID before they register a domain.

Recently, the registry has tried to enforce retroactive enforcement of this requirement, causing registrars including Go Daddy and Network Solutions to abandon the TLD altogether.

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