From Arpanet to Dot-com: 25 years of the journey
25 years ago, a tech company called Symbolics registered the first .Com, marking the first time that a private company had a presence on the Internet. At that time, most people had no idea what a .Com, much less a website or an email, was. Undoubtedly the journey of the.Com and indeed, the Internet has been most interesting. It took more than a decade from the launch of the .Com, till the year 1997, well into the Internet boom, for the one millionth .Com to be registered.
Since then the growth has been exponential and phenomenal. Today there are over 200 million websites in the world… Innumerable businesses use the Internet for internal communication, external sales and marketing. Billions of individuals use the Internet for myriad purposes - chat, network, recruitment, research and entertainment. The Internet has changed the way we live our lives and the way we conduct business. And the .Com domain has truly been at the vanguard of this revolution.
The road for the Internet though has not always been this smooth. Until the early 1990’s, in fact, people weren’t allowed to make websites for anything other than research, education or government functions. Skeptics doubted the potential of the Internet for two major reasons – limited online content and slow connectivity.
But in the mid 1990’s, a massive shift took place - restrictions on content and ownership were significantly relaxed. Many industry watchers feel that the turning point was the introduction of the Mosaic web browser that brought mainstream consumers on to the web. Now, companies could use the Internet for existing businesses and entrepreneurs could create new Internet-based businesses. As these regulations were falling, two more changes were also pushing people to go online - the rising speed of the Internet and the increasing number of Internet connections in homes and offices. Having a domain name thus made it simpler for the average person to access a website, instead of having to remember a long series of numbers and dots – the IP address. This heralded a new era in the online economy.
Today, the Internet no doubt, has changed the very face of communication. And the .COM domain has been at the vanguard of this revolution. As the popularity of the Internet grew, there was a steady increase in the demand for .Coms. With a view to further accelerate this process Network Solutions, in 1995, started offering a.Com domain for $100 for two years. Soon thereafter there was further liberalization in the space and more companies were allowed to act as domain name registrars. This increased competition caused the price of .Com’s to fall further – eventually settling at $ 7 per year at the time.
Today, .COM is well and truly ensconced as the market leader in the space As per The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Internet has grown to 80 million .Coms In fact, globally, though several TLDs (Top level domains) have been introduced in the online space, none has been able to take the place of the .COM. Even today, 75% of domain names in the world are .COMs.
In India, the power of .COM is equally well established. Despite an Internet penetration of only 6-7%, India already has lakhs of .COMs registered. Furthermore, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the global body that sets standards for the Internet, has announced that, domain names will get localized. This will enable the use of domain names in Hindi and 22 other scripts, implying that non-English speakers across the world will see Internet addresses in their own regional script. This move has been in response to requests to do so from a number of countries including Japan, China, Korea and India.
With the increased number of websites, the demand for provisioning domain names and related services has also witnessed a rise. With Verisign (the registry for .Com) implementing localized strategies and rise in Internet penetration via mobile phones and broadband providers, the rate of growth is only likely to increase.
In the time to come, the Internet, and consequently the .Com, will play an even larger role in our lives. Information will be readily accessible and not necessarily just from our personal phones. Classrooms will begin to integrate more and more advanced technology to aid teachers. For businesses and individuals, the changes in the marketplace will become even more defined and companies that stay abreast of the changing landscape of the Internet will find themselves more able to adapt to an entirely new marketplace, better suited to handle the challenges of business in the 21st century.
ITIF estimates that .Coms alone account for some $400 million in economic benefits to businesses and consumers and that figure will likely double in the next ten years. So, here’s looking forward to a bright future- the next 25 years of .Com and the way ahead!
Bhavin Turakhia, is founder, CEO and chairman of Directi
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