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Looking back at 2016

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2016-reviewFrom my role as Product Manager Domains, I love to start the year with an internal update to our team on what happened the year before with respect to domains and domain-related topics. As our company is spread over four countries which each have their own focus, such company-wide updates increase involvement and makes everybody aware of what we are doing. During my presentation a few weeks ago, the question arose why we are not sharing this with our customers. Indeed: there’s not much confidential information in here, so enjoy reading our efforts in the “domains” field over 2016!


2016 at a glance

2016 was the year of…

  • 31% domain volume growth: while we aimed at hitting the 1 millionth registration by the end of December, the slow Christmas holidays have delayed this – we reached this milestone on the 24th of January, and the domain name could not have been a better one:, “the right direction” in Dutch. Our reseller that registered this 1.000.000th domain has won an awesome action camera!
  • 22 released “normal” accreditations: 3 legacy gTLDs (.asia, .pro, .xxx) and 19 ccTLDs (including .in, .tv, .us and .cl). Our 12 new gTLD accreditations are not included.
  • 50 complete registrar take-overs: this included the second-biggest SIDN take-over ever (35.000 domain names). But also .be, .eu and gTLD migrations have been done.
  • the biggest “brute force” so far: 1.824 .shop domains were ready to be registered at the moment the General Availability opened (hence the term “brute force”). We got a success rate of 83%. This is lower than our average 91%, which is mainly due to the high number of generic domain names requested.
  • and 24 other brute forces: from .cloud to .store, from .blog to .barcelona.
  • improved communication: internally (regular reports, assigned a communication supervisor role) and externally (improved newsletter process, more structured updates to our Supreme members).
  • and two wonderful partner events: okay, not directly domain-related, but we’re looking back with satisfaction!

End-of-year statistics

Annual domain volumes

If we look at our annual volumes, we see that our primary markets are the fastest growers: in .es we got 47% more domain names, in .nl 27%. Two striking developments are the huge increase in “others” which is mainly due to a very successful campaign on .se and .nu domains; and a big drop in .it registrations, due to closing down a series of abusive resellers.

With respect to the multi-year graph, we expect to continue our increasing growth rates over 2017.

Domain volume breakdown

World-wide registry rankings

Several registries provide insight in their registrar rankings. The graph below shows where Openprovider is standing at a number of registries. While not all registries publish such statistics, further analysis of public and private sources shows us that Openprovider is well into the top-50 of biggest registrars in the world, probably somewhere between place 40 and 45.

Registry rankings

Registry accreditations

While in domain volume we are “just” ranked around place 40, those figures change when looking at registry accreditations. We believe that we can best serve our customers if we are close to the source: this gives us better control, better influence and better pricing. Our Membership model is based on this believe.

For new gTLDs, this translates to our brand promise: be accredited for all new gTLDs. But it’s not only new gTLDs that we do ourselves: by the end of 2016, we managed 56 ccTLD and legacy gTLD accreditations. How this evolved, is shown in this graph:

Number of accreditations

New gTLDs

Although new gTLDs are not really “new” anymore, people still know them as such and they’re still being marketed as such. That’s why I gladly create a separate chapter on them! By the way, if you want to see other statistics, visit (my favorite!) or read my short blog post on it.

With around 32.500 new gTLD registrations (out of a total of 27.6 million), we are far from the biggest registrar. However, looking a bit more into detail, it seems like the numbers are really distorted: a quick count learns that no less than 22 million domains in the top-25 have been subject to (almost-)for-free pricing. Looking at the biggest registrars, we see the same situation:

  • Number #1 is Chengdu, managing 4.6 million domains, of which at least 95% has been subject to sub-$1 pricing.
  • Number #2 is Alibaba, managing 3.5 million domains, of which at least 93% has been subject to sub-$1 pricing.
  • Number #3 is Alpnames, managing 2.9 million domains, of which at least 99% has been subject to sub-$1 pricing.
  • The first serious registrar is GoDaddy on number #6, managing 1.4 million domains.

This matches the global finding that China (the first three registrars I mentioned are from China) is investing a lot in domain names – unfortunately nobody seems to know why… The question is what will happen in a few years: do the registries keep their forced low pricing to retain their volumes or will the prices raise? If so, what effect will it have on the number of registered and renewed domains?

Registrar diversification

Back to graphics. A few months ago, the blog mentioned Openprovider in a list of registrars with most different gTLD registrations. I’ve repeated that analysis for new gTLDs only, and while Openprovider is not huge in numbers, we belong to the top if you look at the number of registered (which is related to “offered”) domain extensions. Four out of the six registrars above us get part of their volumes from brand registries like .skype, .google and .fox – extensions that we cannot register. Our team is proud about those statistics!

nTLD diversification

Top volumes

What are the biggest extensions managed by Openprovider? The graph below shows the top 10. Compared to last year, there are a few new extensions in the list, simply because they did not exist last year, like .shop and .barcelona. Three other extensions appeared in the list because we have tailored promotions with a few of our customers, which were really successful: .online, .club and .xyz.
nTLD volumes

Registrar rankings

When looking at the global registrar rankings, Openprovider is in the top-10 for many of them. It strikes that it’s mostly the restricted, complex extensions that we are ranking high, or the extensions that require efforts from the registrar to become accredited. This is a great result of our brand promise: because we do all of them, other registrars know where to find the more specific extensions. We have seen the biggest trademark companies in the world reaching out to us for registering domains in some hard-to-get extensions. Also the geographical extensions are doing well with us.

nTLD top positions

Market shares

How does this translate into market shares? The graph tells all! What I wrote before is visible here as well: the only true generic here is .town, all other extensions in which Openprovider manages a substantial part of the zone are geographical, heavily restricted or very expensive.

nTLD market shares

Looking forward to 2017

Having looked back at the previous year, we need to look forward to the new year as well. During 2017, our primary focus will be on process improvement: the number of extensions and features in Openprovider has grown organically over the past few years: we’re carrying more complex extensions with more features or restrictions and we have added a lot of domain-related tools. In 2017, we will review this in all aspects and ensure your user experience will be even better than it is now!

New accreditations have moved to the second place: they are still important, but it’s no goal in itself. As our accreditations now cover more than 99% of our domain volume, new accreditations will be based on customer demand and growth opportunities.

Remember that I’m only talking about the “domains” product now. We will also focus on our new products PowerPanel and SMBinvoices, further improving our SSL panel and work on many different other small and big projects.

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