3.4 million .eu domain names registered in five years – I call dismal failure

.eu, the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the European Union, originally launched 7 December 2005, but full public registration started on 7 April 2006. One day early, EURid, the non-profit that operates the .eu TLD, issued a press release celebrating its fifth birthday.

According to EURid, registration of .eu domain names have doubled in five years, which puts it ninth on the list of most popular TLDs in the world. “This proves that .eu gives companies an effective means to present themselves online as open for business across Europe, “said Marc Van Wesemael, General Manager of EURid.

But is it really an achievement worth crowing about? I beg to differ.

Let’s look at the raw numbers, shall we?

EURid itself states .eu domain names are available to more than 500 million Europeans in 27 countries – domains can be registered by organizations and citizens in all EU member states.

And yet less than 3.4 million .eu domain names have been registered to date. To put that in perspective, half of those (that would be 1.7 million) were registered in April 2006, the first month of availability. That means it effectively took five years for the number of domain names that were secured within the first month of availability to double. Five. Years.

Now let’s take a look at the popularity of other country code TLDs in Europe:

Germany (.de): 14.321.870 registered domain names
United Kingdom (.co.uk, .org.uk, etc.): 9.317.393 registered domain names
The Netherlands (.nl): 4.378.370 registered domain names
France (.fr): 1.989.689 registered domain names

According to VeriSign, the fourth quarter of 2010 closed with a base of more than 205 million domain names across all TLDs. About half of those are .com and .net domain names, With roughly 1.4 percent of all domain name registrations under the .eu TLD, the extension represents a mere blip, and it’s worth noting considering its vast geographical reach.

Granted, .eu was late to the party, but even when you don’t look at the numbers, the new TLD hasn’t exactly been a smash hit any way you look at it.

How many companies do you know that actively advertise their .eu domain name rather than the .com or the local country domain? How many times have you thought of a good domain name and immediately thought to yourself: I need to get the .eu domain name, pronto.

I remember EURid announcing the top 4 most requested .eu domain names during the Sunrise period back in February 2006. Let’s take a look:

Sex.eu with 23 applications (current status: website doesn’t resolve)
Schumacher.eu with 15 applications (current status: website doesn’t resolve)
Realestate.eu with 12 applications (current status: website seemingly made in 1996)
Business.eu with 12 applications (current status: forwards to some German link farm)

I rest my case.