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Registrar Market Share: An Alternative Perspective

In the past, most measurements of registrar market share have tracked overall registrar shares—number of domains registered by a registrar divided by number of domains registered by all registrars. In this article, I propose some alternatives—particular subsets of domains in which to measure registrar market shares, providing a basis for comparison with overall market shares. Results vary dramatically across these subsets, with implications on the future customer retention rates of the corresponding registrars.


Understanding registrar market share is of interest in assessing the financial viability and proper valuation of each registrar, in selecting a registrar, and in understanding the registrar features and design seemingly of greatest interest to domain registrants.

Continued work by State of the Domain (among others) documents registrar market share as measured as a proportion of total COM, NET, and ORG domain names. In contrast, this document focuses on certain subsets of the domain registration market—namely, the domains of the largest American firms (as listed in the Fortune 1000), the largest firms worldwide (as listed in the Forbes International 500), and the relatively well-known sites listed in leading web directory Yahoo!. These subsets of the gTLD domain name space are of interest for the distinct registration markets they represent. Most notably, this analysis focuses on domains actually in active use; the design of these subsets seeks to exclude domain name speculators and warehousers, whose millions of domain registrations might prevent ordinary domain registration analysis from properly reflecting the registrations of all domains actually in current active use and most likely to be renewed in the future.

Analysis shows substantial divergence among the groups studied. For example, while Network Solutions’ market share across all COM, NET, and ORG registrations has reportedly fallen to 26%, its market share among the primary domains of Fortune 1000 companies remains 74%, more than twice as large. Similarly, 62% of domains in a 2001 snapshot of Yahoo! are currently registered with Network Solutions, and 38% of recent additions to Yahoo! use Network Solutions. In short, Network Solutions’ market share is in every category of domains found to be larger than SOTD reports. Thus, excluding registrations by domain speculators and warehousers, it is likely that Network Solutions has a larger market share—of domains actually in use, for which renewal rates are likely to be relatively higher—than SOTD’s analysis has suggested. In contrast, certain other registrars tend to be underrepresented within these groups of registrants: iholdings.com, Schlund+Partner, and XIN Net are all underrepresented within the designated categories of domains, while experience shows them to be more popular among bulk registrants. The Results section of this document provides similar data for a variety of other registrars.

In this research, I document the registrars used by each of the Fortune 1000 companies, by each of the Forbes International 500 companies, and by listings in Yahoo!. I subsequently compare these registration patterns with the registrars used by the entire domain name registration market.

Related Links:

- Data and Results
- Registration counts by category and registrar
- Registration counts by category and registrar, relative to overall registrar share
- Special Coverage: New Analysis of Domain Name Business

By Benjamin Edelman, Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School

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