Better growth down to fewer cancellations
A look at the underlying data quickly reveals why net growth was up: the number of cancellations was down, especially in July and August. Registrars and registrants have traditionally been in the habit of tidying up their portfolios over the summer months by cancelling unused domain names. This year, however, there was little evidence of that happening. In absolute terms, the total number of cancellations was the lowest recorded for a year's third quarter since 2012. We cannot yet say whether people have merely delayed making cancellations, or whether we are witnessing some kind of structural change in the pattern.
International picture: Asia drives growth
Globally, there are now more than three hundred million registered domain names. Not all registries report data in real time, so working out a total figure involves estimation. While estimates for the unreported domains vary, it's clear that current growth is attributable almost entirely to Asia. Amongst the ten fastest-growing TLDs, almost all except .com focus primarily on China. Demand from Asia is also apparent in other parts of the world.
Country-code domains with two-vowel extensions (e.g. Estonia's .ee) have witnessed a rapid rise in the number of registrations from Asia. There seems to be particular interest in very short domain names, often without any linguistic significance. Experts on the Asian market disagree as to the extent to which the registrations are speculative.
Growth of nTLDs weakens
Although Asian nTLDs performed well, various other nTLDs (e.g. .science and .party) contracted sharply. As a result, the overall growth of the nTLDs remained fairly stable. Many nTLD domain names are cancelled again after a year, so that the net effect of the new TLDs on the market remains relatively modest.
Europe lags behind
While the Asian market is blossoming, the European market remains sluggish. Growth of European ccTLDs is well below the global average and continues to weaken. Over the last year for which we have data, growth was about 14 per cent in the global market, but just 2.8 per cent amongst European ccTLDs. That figure is held down mainly by lack of growth in Europe's biggest and most established ccTLDs. Over the last twelve months, for example, .de grew by 1.10 per cent and .uk by just 0.26 per cent).