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Web Address Sales Hit Record High

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_____ICANN Headlines_____
Web Addresses Extending Their Global Domain (The Washington Post, Jun 17, 2004)
Exclusive Address Not That Expensive (The Washington Post, May 23, 2004)
For Sale: A 100-Year Web Address (The Washington Post, Mar 25, 2004)
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By David McGuire
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 8, 2004; 12:01 AM

A record 4.7 million Internet addresses were sold in the first three months of 2004, bringing the total number of registered addresses to a new high of 62.9 million, according to a study released today by Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign Inc.

The report attributed the spike in domain-name sales to growing Internet usage in Europe and Asia, as well as a rebounding U.S. economy. VeriSign noted that 4.1 million domain names were sold in the first quarter of 2003 and 3.7 million in the first quarter of 2002.

VeriSign, the exclusive wholesaler of Internet addresses ending in dot-com and dot-net, measured registrations for every available domain -- from dot-org and dot-edu to country codes like dot-ch for Switzerland and dot-sg for Singapore. It also included data on relatively newer domains like dot-biz, dot-info and dot-museum.

The growing demand for domain names was fueled in part by the new availability of Internet addresses that use Arabic, Chinese and Russian characters, said Raynor Dahlquist, VeriSign's acting vice president for naming and directory services.

"[We're] seeing multilingual adoption in the naming market really taking off," Dahlquist said.

The number of domain-name registrations has grown in nearly every year that the Internet has existed. The most recent exception was in the first quarter of 2002 when new sales fell to approximately 3.8 million from 4.1 million in the first quarter of 2001.

During the late 1990s Internet boom, companies and individuals scrambled to register domain names for their corporate and personal identities, as well as common words like "beer" or "love." Domain name speculators also snapped up addresses as quickly as possible, often holding popular terms for ransom and agreeing to sell them for thousands or millions of dollars.

The "hangover effect from the Internet boom" has begun to lift, said Steve Ashley, a senior vice president at investment banking firm Robert Baird in Milwaukee, Wis. He predicted that domain-name sales would continue to grow as the economic rebound continues. Ashley owns no stock in VeriSign and his firm does not perform investment banking services for the company.

"VeriSign is a good barometer of general economic activity and it's very reasonable that their business is getting better as the economy is recovering. Every time a movie comes out, every time a new product is issued, you'll likely have a new domain name with it. Economic activity spurs domain name sales," Ashley said.

Bob Parsons, the president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Godaddy.com, one of the world's largest Internet address retailers, said his company's sales in recent months echo the VeriSign report. Godaddy's address sales rose 35 percent from the fourth quarter of 2003 to the first quarter of 2004 and are on target for similar growth in the second quarter, he said.

The VeriSign report shows that the Internet is working itself into people's daily lives more than ever, Parsons said.

"[It's] like the automobile industry at the turn of the century. Everybody's getting cars," he said. "We're being contacted by more and more people who are just getting wet in this and, of course, that means lots and lots of sales."


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