Is the Sleeping Giant About to Awake?
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In our last blog posting, we briefly mentioned the explosive adoption and usage of the Internet in India. Let's dig a little deeper and discover what are some of the key trends in the Internet in India and what significance this may have for the domain industry in India as well as the future growth potential of the .IN ccTLD (country-code Top-Level-Domain).
The demographics are staggering:
Population: 1,156,897,766 (second largest population in the world)
2010 Internet Population: 81 million users (only 7% of the population)
2015 Internet Penetration: According to consulting firm McKinsey, this is expected to increased almost fivefold, to more than 350 million users. It is also predicted that almost half of these users will be accessing the web via mobile phones, skipping PCs altogether.
.COM/.NET: According to Verisign, India now has over 1.037 million registered web sites using the suffixes .com or .net. .Com is the most preferred with 965,000 compared with about 72,000 for .net
.IN domains: approximately 700,000 registered
The .IN ccTLD is managed by NIXI, the National Internet Exchange of India. The majority of domain registrations in India are made by medium and large enterprises. There is extremely low penetration of domain names among individuals. This is still very much an emerging market when it comes to domain names. There is a general lack of awareness among small businesses and individuals regarding the value of owning a domain name. However, with a population close to 1.2 billion people and an increasing demand for Internet services, is now a good time to embrace the .IN x?
This week we were very fortunate to receive some valuable insight into the Indian domain market from Mr. Jeffrey Behrendt, a Canadian who operates a popular forum dedicated to the Indian domain market called INForum.in. Mr. Behrendt is an active Indian domain investor himself and was kind of enough to answer some questions we posed to him about the Indian domain market.
Q: What do you attribute to the strong growth in the .IN ccTLD over the past couple of years?
A: In 2005, the registration of .in and .co.in domains was liberalized - it became possible for anyone anywhere in the world to register them and it became easy to register and transfer them as .com or any other TLD. Since then, the number of .in and co.in domains registered has jumped from about 75,000 to over 700,000. The Indian registry seems determined to ensure that this number keeps increasing and has been running specials offering .in and co.in domains at greatly discounted prices. The liberalization of .in and co.in domains has greatly increased their popularity in India and more and more companies, both local and international, are starting to use them. I've also noticed an increase in recent months of end-users buying domains in the aftermarket.
Q: How active is the domainer market in India?
A: The market is obviously small compared to .com, but I think that it is large for a ccTLD of its size. I think that this is for several reasons. First, unlike a lot of ccTLDs, there are no residence or nationality requirements. Second, the transfer of .in and co.in domains is simple and straightforward. Third, the market is in English, which is the international language of business. Finally, there is a lot of international interest in India, so there are many domainers from the US, UK, Germany and other countries who are active in the Indian market. DNJournal keeps track of larger publicly reported sales, and virtually every week there are two or three .in sales reported. As well, there have been a few publicly reported five-figure sales this year.
Q: Are there any trends regarding .IN that we should be made aware of?
A: The Internet in India is still in its infancy. But this is changing quickly and Indians adopt technology rapidly. The time will come when more people use the Internet in India than in the US. Another important trend is that Internet usage in India is driven by the young. Over half of India's population is under the age of 25. Domains in markets that cater to a young crowd are a good bet.
Q: Any challenges / obstacles for .IN moving forward?
A: A lot of the challenges are similar to that of any domain extension - end users need to be educated as to the competitive advantage conferred by a generic name. As well, the INDRP (.IN Dispute Resolution Policy) - India's version of the UDRP (Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy) for resolving conflicting claims to ownership of a domain - has similar problems as the UDRP does.
Unique challenges to India include improving the Internet infrastructure and doing so at a low cost, especially outside the larger cities. As well, there are plans to create Indian domain extensions that are in local languages such as Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi. Instead of typing latin characters, you would be able to type characters in these local languages. And instead of the domain ending in .in, the domain would end in the equivalent of .bharat in the corresponding Indian language. I think that this is great for increasing Internet usage in India. However, I believe that its impact on .in will be small, as English is the primary language of government, business, law, universities and the educated.
Q: When was INForum.in started? What are the objectives of this site?
A: INForum.in was started in January 2007 to provide a home to the Indian domain name industry. It's the main website where domainers can discuss anything related to Indian domains, including buying, selling, monetizing and developing them. We also talk about anything to do with the Indian Internet, as well as business and culture in India. We have an active marketplace for Indian domain names as well. The goal is to educate people about the Indian domain market as well as allow people to exchange ideas and network. At INForum.in, there is something for everyone who is interested in Indian domains.
.IN at a Glance:
Available Domains: .in, co.in, net.in, org.in, firm.in, gen.in, ind.in
Pricing: View Pricing
Requirements: Anyone can register a .IN domain
Registration Period: 1-10 yrs.
IDN Capable: No