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Join the race to book your domain

All those who don’t have their own domain names, thanks to speculators and squatters who booked them much before everybody else, now have three days to acquire one that would give them an Asian identity. Rahul Sharma reports.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2008 01:26 IST
Rahul Sharma

All those who don’t have their own domain names, thanks to speculators and squatters who booked them much before everybody else, now have three days to acquire one that would give them an Asian identity.

Bollywood stars such as Amitabh Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Kajol, Ajay Devgan, Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra and former cricketer Kapil Dev apparently have one thing in common —they don’t have their domain names, according to the Hong Kong-based DotAsia Organisation that is the main registry operator for the .asia domain name.

Sushmita Sen, is all set to sue a Canada-based man for squatting on sushmitasen.com, says DotAsia, and it seems Shahrukh Khan had to pay dollops of cash to buy www.shahrukhkhan.com. Kapil Dev has been smart this time around. According to DotAsia, he’s already booked his .asia domain name after losing out kapildev.com and kapildev.in.

There are indeed reasons to worry for most. The web is spreading its net wider, and faster, and if you are in the hunt for suitable domains, so are many others. More than 33 million domain names were grabbed last year.

The demand for domain names is being pushed not only by the spread of broadband services giving Internet access to millions more, but also due to a rise in the number of wireless devices and gaming consoles across the world. More websites have to be created to make downloads possible for your mobile phones and Blackberries.

According to VeriSign, which provides Internet infrastructure for the networked world, domain name registrations globally in 2007 stood at more than 153 million across all top-level domain names, which include .com and .net — the two biggest with a lion’s share of over 80.4 million registrations. The growth numbers are impressive, but what eventually matters is that a high number — about 88 percent — of these registrations actually get converted into single and multi-page websites. That means that domain name registrars are making money because they are charging you for letting you use your chosen name on your website.

The demand for country and region specific domain names such as .cn for China and .ru for Russia also rose last year. The total base of country code top level domain names, as they are known, was 58 million in 2007, Verisign said — an increase of 33 percent over the previous year. The ubiquitous .com had the biggest base among all domain names, followed by .de (Germany), .net and .cn, the demand for which grew by a whopping 399 percent, Verisign said, adding that the fifth slot was shared by .uk (United Kingdom) and .net.

An increase in the number of domain name registrations is also reflected in the number of Internet users across the world that has rocketed in the past seven years, rising to more than 1.3 billion at the end of last year, according to internetworldstats.com.

Asia of course has the maximum Internet users despite a poor population penetration of less than 14 percent against 20 percent for the rest of the world. China tops the list for sheer numbers, followed by Japan and then India.

And soon the world’s most populated continent will have its own top level domain name —.asia — much like .eu for the Europe. It is likely that given the freewheeling rise of the Internet in the region domain name speculators would be looking to make money as they are prone to whenever a new address is introduced to the cyber world. So, expect squatters to arrive and take over that name that you would rather have, unless you beat them.