France is the latest of the ccTLDs to reach the one million .fr registrations. The milestone was reached on January 11.Given the population of France, it has taken a while to reach this mark compared to other ccTLDs. For example, .de will reach their twelve millionth domain registration this year, and even smaller countries such as Australia with around a third of the population and similarly restrictive/protective, depending on who you ask, registration rules, passed the mark late last year. Switzerland (.ch) also reached the one million mark in 2007. A large part of the success of .de registrations has been the less restrictive rules.
There were restrictions on who could register a .fr domain name. Up until 2004 only companies, associations and community groups could register a .fr domain name. Then on June 20, 2006, .fr was opened up to all physical people within France.
So today, according to Loïc Damilaville, deputy to the DG at Afnic, there are around 2,000 registrations each day with around 70 per cent of these for companies and 30 per cent for private individuals.
But there must be other reasons, and one reason often given for the initial slow take-up of the internet in France compared to other European countries was the success of Minitel, a Videotex online service accessible through the telephone lines, and is considered one of the world’s most successful pre-World Wide Web online services according to Minitel’s Wikipedia entry.
But the main reason for the slow growth, is that France still keeps the name .fr extension restricted to French Companies and French citizens. The Registry and the French Government still have not realized the harm they generate to their Economy by this restriction.
How should international investment and businesses even consider setting up structures in France if they can not upfront register their company names and industry generic terms as domain names. How could an international company or e-commerce start creating a customer base in France before considering coming to France, as they can not register a .fr name that could become indexed in Google in order to address that market from outside France!
Not every e-commerce can afford to register worldwide trademarks and have a local addresses before considering whether the market is worth investing into. That’s why it is important to open up a country TLD. To attract businesses! But this seems too difficult to understand for some registries like France.
Even though most registries have opened up their restricted rules over the last years it is strange that still a few registries (France, Norway, Finland, Island,.) can survive with their anti-european approach in today’s marketplace. Maybe somebody should point out this situation to their new President, Mr. Sarkozy, who seems to like to bring some changes to the country.
Once this change would be done done, then the number of registration will jump to 5 Million within two years.
This big News of one million domain is more a News that points out France domain registration problematic than a big achievement.