Monday, May 16, 2011

What happened to NNNNN.com domains?

3 years ago, all the 5 digit .com domains were bought out, all 100,000 of them. This was during a frenzy of domain buyouts, many of which were unsuccessful. The buyout followed the LLLL.com buyout and price spike, and many buyers of NNNNN.com's were expecting similar price activity following the buyout of these numeric domains, given that they were much more scarce than four letter .com domains, and had already been put to more uses (zip code domains, word-dial, Chinese domains, and many other uses). But, following an initial period of some interest in these domains, they fell out of favor along with many other "buyout" domains, including LLLL.com's to a large extent, which at one point were trading at a $60 minimum for any 4 ugly letters. After one year from the buyout date, many NNNNN.com's started to drop, as their owners saw no point in keeping them registered.

And this is where the story gets interesting. Over the last 2 years, apparently domainers (mainly Chinese domainers it appears), have been quietly snapping up these domains. There remains today only about 1-2% of these domains available to register, compared to around 18% a month before the buyout a few years ago. Now I am NOT suggesting anyone go and buy the remainder out, they appear to be unregistered for a reason, namely they have a "4" in them which the Chinese consider an unlucky number, and have no other redeeming value such as use as a zip code domain or similar purpose. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that our predictions about the increased Chinese presence on the internet and what this means for numeric domains appears to have largely come true. It seems the buyout was a few years ahead of its time, and perhaps in the future those that have registered some quality NNNNN.com domains and held them may finally reap rewards. Judging from the numeric domain interest on 4.cn, and especially the rise in prices for NNNN.com domains, this seems even more of a possibility than it did a couple years ago.