.IE On A Roll As It Hits Quarter Million Domains

Ireland’s ccTLD hit the quarter million domain name registrations mark last week as .ie has been on a mini boom since a relaxation in eligibility rules in March. Today there are 254,400 .ie domain names registered, and 34,000 have been registered this year.

The magical domain name chosen as the 250,000th was for a leading beauty salon in Dublin called The Wicklow Street Clinic that specialises in a wide range of treatments and therapies for skin and body.

“Customers value ease and convenience and in order to survive, SMEs need to respond to competition from international websites,” said IE Domain Registry Chief Executive David Curtin. “Our research shows that 69% of consumers find it frustrating or extremely frustrating if a company does not have a website. In our experience, many business owners need help as they start to plan and prioritise what is required to digitise the sales process. We work closely with SMEs through our OPTIMISE Programme and to date have assisted over 130 small and micro-business owners to enhance their website capabilities and grow online sales.”

While Ireland’s country code top level domain ranks poorly when it comes to domain names registered per capita, things are improving and Irish people, like those in most countries, like, even love, their ccTLD. Statistics from IEDR’s Digital Health Index (Q4 2017) [pdf] show that buying Irish is important to almost three-quarters (73%) of Irish shoppers. A website with a .ie domain shows local customers that a business is trustworthy and familiar, and international consumers that it is authentically Irish.

IEDR’s .ie Domain Profile Report H1 2018 [pdf] reported the best ever half-year period for the registration of .ie domains, with 154 new .ie domains registered every day. New domain registrations grew by 39% year-on-year to 28,126 in H1 2018 and almost two-thirds (62.5%) of new .ie domains were registered by businesses (including corporate bodies and sole traders).

Local communities, clubs and societies can now register .ie names that include their townland, county or other geographical names. Citizens and residents can apply for nicknames or abbreviated first names. Following the phased introduction of a .ie ‘secondary market’, existing domain holders can now sell on .ie names that they no longer use.

Obtaining a .ie online address is now easier than ever before following the introduction of our new liberalisation policy. The policy, implemented in March 2018 after extensive consultation with industry stakeholders and the general public, has resulted in a streamlined registration process.

While applicants are still required to prove their connection to Ireland, the process is now easier and faster and has opened-up the .ie namespace significantly for Irish citizens, businesses and associations. For new business start-ups and small-scale enterprises, liberalisation has removed an administrative obstacle to .ie domain registration.

But with the surge in registrations there have been calls for a reduction in the registry fee, the fee charged to registrars as Domain Pulse reported earlier this month.

The company which handled the largest share of those new registrations, Carlow-based Blacknight, is calling on IEDR to reduce the cost of .ie domain names and pass on the savings made by simplifying the registration process.

“It’s no surprise that simpler registration rules have led to a growth in registration volumes. None. We knew that would happen”, says Michele Neylon, CEO of Blacknight.

“We had long argued that cumbersome registration requirements were needlessly impeding the growth of the Irish national domain. We’re delighted to be proved right, and we welcome the vote of confidence shown by the public in the .IE namespace”, said Neylon.

“But now it’s time to tackle the other obstacle to growth. If IEDR want to really drive registration volumes, then they need to reduce the wholesale price of IE domain names to bring them in line with other major European country-code domain names”.

He says that the only beneficiary of the cost-savings delivered by the rule changes in March has been IEDR itself, which has likely seen a reduction in costs associated with what was previously a labour-intensive process.