The most popular domain has turned 25. It was on March 15, 1985 that the first .com – symbolics.com was registered in what had yet to be labeled the ‘world wide web’. While it took nearly a decade for the domain – and the consumer Internet – to take off, today there are over 80 million .com websites and the domain is a prominent feature of one of our culture’s most iconic developments.
While its economic and social impact is undisputed, for the first time the economic impact of .com has been quantified in a new study that found that the domain serves as a platform for $400 billion in annual economic activity. The report, by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), found that the broader Internet economy drives more than $1.5 trillion in global annual economic activity, more than the global sales of medicine, investment in renewable energy, and government investment in R&D, combined. The ITIF estimates that the economic activity flowing across the .com infrastructure is likely to grow to $950 billion in annual revenue by 2020.
The .com domain has defined a generation of innovation and entrepreneurism, serving as the launch pad for a new generation of companies that have transformed communications, commerce, entertainment and more.
It has also become part of the fabric of daily life. According to a recent poll of over 3,800 respondents by an independent research firm, 81 percent of Americans visit five or more .com websites a day, with many visiting more than that. Two-thirds of Americans visit between five and 25 .com websites a day. And, nearly two-thirds of Americans have used a .com website to reconnect with an old friend, with six percent reporting that they met their spouse or significant other on a .com website. Over half of respondents reported finding important medical information on a .com website and one in five said they found a job on a .com site.
The .com domain remains at the center of nearly every major Internet trend. According to VeriSign’s Internet Profiling Service there are 11.9 million e-commerce and online business websites, 1.8 million sports-related sites and 4.3 million entertainment-related sites with a .com web address. The most popular words among .com URL’s today include ‘home’ (1.2 million), ‘online’ (1 million) and ‘land’ (891,000).
“For anyone under the age of 30, they probably don’t remember when the Internet wasn’t in their life. It’s become such an essential part of how we work, live and play. The 25th anniversary of .com gives us a moment to step back and realize how deeply the Internet revolution has transformed our society,” said Mark McLaughlin, CEO and President of VeriSign, a leading provider of Internet infrastructure. In looking ahead to the next chapter in the history of .com and its integral role in the Internet, and as part of its commitment to the Internet infrastructure, VeriSign has embarked on a new initiative called Project Apollo. This initiative will dramatically strengthen and scale the .com infrastructure by the year 2020.
Over the next three years alone, the Internet will see the number of users increase by 500 million to 2.2 billion worldwide, and devices accessing the Internet increase from 1.6 billion devices to 2.7 billion devices. And with the emergence of innovations like smart grids, electronic health care and radio frequency ID (RFID) tags, the Internet and associated technology systems will undergo profound changes in the next decade.