By Kathryn Donahue, Sedo.com Key Account Manager
A recent increase in high value .US sales is creating a buzz among the domain community. Nobody expected the TLD to take off, certainly not to the degree of its predecessor, the .com which currently has over 40 million domains registered. The .US TLD has faced some skepticism from its start. However speculation on the value of the .US TLD is starting to climb as more and more domainers are purchasing the TLD. Further, the number of purchases of .US domains on the secondary market is increasing rapidly as well.
The .US TLD, administered by Neustar, was first established in 1985 as the official Country code TLD for the United States. However it wasn’t until April 2002 that this second level TLD was available for registration by organizations and individuals in the United States. The .US TLD may be registered by citizens and permanent residents of the United States or by any entity or organization which has a legitimate presence in the United States. The .US TLD gives a domain not only a new branding possibility but also an American identity on the internet.
There are a number of prominent domain investors developing .US portfolios. One of the most active speculators in today’s market involves the buying of food related .US domains, such as onion.us, garlic.us, herb.us, and choclate.us. That particular investor has already spent over $85,000 on such domains and it looks as though this craving has yet to be satisfied. Further, food.us was actually just sold through Sedo for a whopping $20,000.
These savvy domainers are definitely on to something. The .US market is growing with around 1,000 new domains registered everyday. With more and more of these domains being registered daily, the value of the .US market continues to be driven up. Just how intense has the growth of the .US market been recently? Over the past 12 months, .US registry DNS lookups have increased by 250 percent to approximately 10 billion per month. The number of new .US registrations increased by 21 percent in Q3 2005 and Q2 2005 alone! The highest .US domain sale to date is business.us which sold anywhere between $50,000-$100,000 dollars. The exact amount is unknown due to a non-disclosure agreement. The most popular .US domain site is Del.icio.us, a book marking site, which allows users to save their favorite websites in one place on the web so it is accessible to users from any computer at anytime. Del.icio.us has grown to become the most popular Blog online.
Another testimonial to the up-and-coming .US market is the fact that marketers are now actually branding the TLD. This move has come as a surprise to many people in the industry, as it has been said in the past that branding a website around any TLD other than the .com was a waste of time, as it would simply not be as memorable or as credible as a .com. However many companies are changing their antiquated views and are taking advantage of the availability and lower prices of the .US domains. A recent commercial for Volvo, which was aired during the Larry King Show, directed viewers to Volvocars.us. Another example is ABB, a technology-based provider of power and automation products, who ran a full page ad in Forbes Magazine, advertising the arrival of its new site, ABB.us.
The American identity that this TLD brings to organizations has been widely accepted by both Domestic and Foreign Organizations. .US domains not only distinguish an organization as American but also suggest a sort of patriotism associated with the TLD. Many state, city and town municipalities as well as their institutions such as libraries and offices have widely accepted the .US extension. The reason why so many choose a .US domain is because of such patriotism. However this TLD is also very cleverly used by foreign companies, such as Hitachi and Sony allowing them more of an American presence even over the World Wide Web. Many global companies have localized the websites of the different countries in which they operate by utilizing different ccTLDs. Ikea is a perfect example. They operate different sites in over 25 different languages each uniquely identified by their ccTLD.
Country specific domains are growing in acceptance and in popularity. In today’s domain market the most popular country code TLD is Germany’s .de. With nearly 10 million domains registered, it is also the second most popular TLD in the world and the most popular extension in Germany. Many country code TLDs are increasing in popularity, moving them into a better position to compete with the .com.
Perhaps the second strongest country coded TLD behind the .de is the .co.uk domain. The UK market has seen tremendous growth for their cc TLD in recent years. Many well known British companies, such as the BBC, have used this extension to brand their online presence. There has already been speculation in the industry about the growth of other cc TLDs such as .in and .fr and how competitive they will become in the future.
So where we can expect this domain to take us in the future? As with all things, only time will tell. However there is certainly enough evidence to believe this extension will continue to see steady growth in registration numbers. As for the secondary market, domain investors believe that there will be continued and significant growth for the .US TLD. One thing for sure, ccTLDs are strengthening in volume and value and savvy speculators will be sure to acquire as many of the quality domains as possible.