Alternative Perspectives on Registrar Market Share: The Fortune 1000, the Forbes International 500, and the Yahoo Directory

Alternative Perspectives on Registrar Market Share: The Fortune 1000, the Forbes International 500, and the Yahoo Directory. (May 2002)

Since the 1999 introduction of competitive registration of domain names, analysts have examined the market share of the various registrars now able to offer registrations in the gTLDs of .COM, .NET, and .ORG. Initially Network Solutions (subsequently bought by Verisign) served the entire market as the sole supplier of such domain names, but competitive registrars have subsequently come to have substantial market share. 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, the work described in this document takes a different perspective, focusing instead on certain subsets of the domain registration market. In particular, this work considers 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 Verisign’s market share across all COM, NET, and ORG registrations has fallen to 39.1%, its market share among the primary domains of Fortune 1000 companies remains 83.4%. Similarly, while 74.1% of domains in a 2001 snapshot of Yahoo are currently registered with Verisign, only 44.8% of recent additions to Yahoo use Verisign. Nonetheless, Verisign’s 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 Verisign has a larger market share — of domains actually in use — than SOTD’s analysis has suggested. In the Results section of this document, similar data is provided 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 each listing in Yahoo; I subsequently compare these registration patterns with the registrars used by the entire domain name registration market.