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Will .cn Become the New .com?

I recently came across a chart of the most popular top-level domains (TLDs), compiled by Stephane Van Gelder. Although I keep track of country code TLD registrations for the Country Codes of the World map (see also related CircleID post), Stephane tracks all domains, including .com, .net., etc. And when I saw it I got to thinking…

Here’s the table of the figures I want to focus on:


Source: DomainesInfo.fr

What makes this chart so interesting are the growth rates: .com is growing at 5% and .cn is growing at 18%. Granted, it’s easier to grow at 18% when you’ve only got 12 million registrations, compared with growing at 5% when you’ve got 76 million registrations.

But growth is growth and .cn is clearly on a roll.

And China has a lot of headroom for growth in terms of Web users and potential domain registrants. I am confident that .cn will reach 50 million registrations over the next 3 years.

At about that point in time, .com should be around 100 million registrants—in no danger of losing its number one status.

However, if the rate of growth of .com registrations were to decrease while .cn rate of growth continues to increase, it’s reasonable to wonder if we will one day see the number of .cn registrations surpass .com registrations?

I realize this is a far-fetched scenario.

After all, it’s reasonable to assume that companies that register .cn may also register .com—and the majority do just that.

But it’s certainly something to contemplate. And even if .cn never comes close to surpassing .com, the overall point I’d like to emphasize here is that .cn is now the world’s second most popular top-level domain—and likely to remain that way for many years.

What do you think?

By John Yunker, Author and founder of Byte Level Research

Filed Under


Pretty simple to explain really. here Kevin Ohashi  –  Aug 26, 2008 5:26 PM

Pretty simple to explain really.  here is an email from a chinese registrar I received:

Dear Kevin Ohashi:

Protect your brand, expand your Web presence, give your business credibility and much more - register a .cn domain for one LOW price at Cnobin.com!

.CN is the perfect choice for everything from a small personal site to a big online business. Add a .CN domain to keep competitors from moving in on your brand.

.CN Domain sales promotion will be extended to 23:59:59 UTC 30 Dec 2008,you can register .cn domain still at 0.5$/the first year.All the .cn domains registered at 0.15$ or 0.5$ in 2007,(not including 31 Dec 2007) can renew at 0.5$/the first year from now to 23:59:59 UTC 30 Dec 2008.

Notes:Only the first year of each new registration is eligible.Transfers are not eligible.If an eligible registration is made for a term of more than one year,only the first year will get the 0.5$/year.
(.gov.cn domains new registration are not eligible)

Thanks as always for being a Cnobin customer.

If you have any question ,please feel free to contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Best Wishes,


CNOBIN Support Team
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Domain Name Registrar

15 cent and 50 cent .cn registrations.  It would be interesting to correlate price changes and registration numbers.  I bet you would see a strong correlation.  Like all ‘hot’ things, it will cool.  What it does show you is how cheap it is to really manage the registries and how verisign is taking us all for a ride.

Are all these .CNs actually being used? Stéphane Van Gelder  –  Aug 27, 2008 9:38 AM

The price is one thing. And the extraordinary growth .CN has seen in recent years does appear to be mainly (if not solely) price driven. But it’s usage that’s really important. And what we’ve seen with other “let’s grow our extension no matter what and not consider what people actually do with the names once they’ve got them” schemes is that once the discount period is over, people don’t renew.

Worse, because this kind of promotion gives people the idea that domain names aren’t worth anything, they are then reluctant to pay for them even when they actually do need them.

It’s clear to me that what the Chinese have been doing over the past few years has more to do with politics and their global image than actual TLD use. CN may have now surpassed .DE in terms of registration volumes, but I’m not sure it has in terms of actual use.

Well said Stephane. Like to add Kevin Ohashi  –  Aug 27, 2008 10:20 AM

Well said Stephane. Like to add to the point that this is what .info did in the run up to contracts for .com/net being potentially reassigned to prove capacity to handle what .com/net would take. Their 99 cent infos turned it into probably the spammiest extension in existence and really ruined it in my opinion. So there are some very obvious downsides to this sort of behavior. It makes a big difference who is buying and why.

If a TLD gets infested with tasters and spammers rather than actual users .. Suresh Ramasubramanian  –  Aug 29, 2008 11:44 AM

... who cares about the numbers it waves around?

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