Monday, July 18, 2011

6N's: How Many Are Registered?

With the NNNNN.com (five digit .com) domains hovering near bought-out status once again (22 remain as of today), I thought it would be interesting to look at their younger cousins, the NNNNNN.com's.  Whereas there are 100,000 NNNNN.com domains, there are 1,000,000 NNNNNN.com domains.  So, one would assume that a very small percentage of these domains are registered. 

Well, yes and no.

A small percentage of the domains are registered.  I did ten different searches of 500 random NNNNNN.com's and came up with an average of 8.42% of the domains I checked being registered.  So NNNNNN.com's aren't super-popular just yet.

But, when you consider the numbers again, it becomes clear that there are a HUGE number of NNNNNN.com registered.  Around 84,000 it seems, which is almost approaching the total number of NNNNN.com's registered, which today stands at 99,978.  That is mind-boggling. 

Given that the six digit domains have one more number than the NNNNN.com's, you would think there would be significantly less of them registered.  But apparently this is not the case.  The extra number makes productive uses of the domain less likely (just google any random five and six digit numbers and on balance, there will be many more hits for the five digit numbers).  The extra number also makes the domain harder to remember on balance. 

So what accounts for the significant registration of NNNNNN.com's?  I can think of a few factors. 

One is that NNNNN.com's are not that easy to come by.  While there are 100,000 of them, a little less than half are owned by Marchex as US zip code domains.  And another 10% about are already developed websites.  So you are really looking at only 40,000 domains held by domainers, and as of late you really just can't go and hand-reg one of these domains.  So if you want to register a nice number, you need to go to the six-digit space. 

Another possibility is that in some situations, a six digit domain may actually be preferable to a five-digit domain.  112233.com is more memorable than 11223.com.  The six digit domain can offer the possibility for a symmetrical, easier-to-remember number in some instances. 

Regardless of the explanation, it is proof that numeric domains are becoming harder and harder to register.  As of today, there are still nice numbers available for hand-regging in the NNNNNN.com space.  I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to start speculating in this area, but I wouldn't be surprised if in 10 years or so, it will be significantly more difficult to hand-reg a decent NNNNNN.com.