Hot on the heels of the November report from Nominet, VeriSign – the global registry operator for .com and .net domains – has released its quarterly report into the state of the domain name industry.

Ever wondered how many domains there are? Examining the third quarter of 2007, the report reveals there’s now a total of 146 million registered domain names worldwide. That’s an increase of 6 per cent over the second quarter of this year.

As also mentioned in the Nominet report, .cn (China) is now the fourth largest TLD (top level domain), having just leapfrogged .uk. Year-on-year, it works out as a 467 per cent increase in .cn registrations. No, you didn’t misread that. I really did say 467 per cent.

The huge growth might have something to do with a promotion which the .cn registry has been running. It means it currently costs the equivalent of about 6 pence to register a .cn domain for a year. The offer finishes at the end of 2007, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2008.

An area which hasn’t grown enormously is domain renewals. By and large, people are hanging onto their domains; almost three-quarters get renewed before they expire. That figure hasn’t dipped below 70 per cent for a few years now, and is reflected in the fact that 87 per cent of domains point at an active website.

Still, the flipside is that around 25 per cent of all domains don’t get renewed. Many of these will become available on the open market again (you can search for domains on 123-reg). So as we’ve discussed before, there’s still plenty of choice out there if you’re in the hunt for a catchy domain name.

If you have a few minutes to spare, it’s worth digging a bit deeper: read the full VeriSign report here (300KB PDF).

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