To start things off as 2010 comes to an end, I saw one .ca sale reported at Sedo this week.
Wonga.ca - 2,599 EUR
The domain is still parked at Sedo, and at first I was a little surprised because I don't know what Wonga means. But Wonga.com is a cash loan site from the UK, so perhaps they bought it to start up in Canada.
I think Ron Jackson of DNJournal.com will be publishing his last weekly domain sales report of 2010 today, and there may be some more .ca sales reported.
Looking back on 2010, to me it was not a standout year for the .ca extension. There were a few nice sales and many Canadian businesses and people continue to use the .ca extension, but I don't feel there was any major breakthrough in the aftermarket for .ca. The biggest event was perhaps the switch to an EPP code system from the previous registrar/registrant transfer system through CIRA. CIRA gave the registrars more control over the transfer of .ca's. Though it was a bit confusing at first, I think most people are now familiar enough with it.
Another big event of the last year was the TBR .ca domain drop being postponed for a few weeks while the new EPP system was implemented. Then we had a number of TBR drops cancelled, with the last cancellation causing a major stir amongst participants because although the drop was successful, CIRA decided that it wasn't a fair drop to all the registrars and so cancelled it again. Gladly, this event is now behind us!
What will 2011 bring for .ca domains?
I don't know! But seriously, here are a few of the things I see ahead for the .ca extension in the coming year or so. Some of these apply to domains in general, but I think that .ca will get caught up in the general trends of domain names.
.CA will continue to be a preferred (top 1 or 2 choice) for most Canadians. You still see a lot of people and businesses in Canada using the .ca. Governments use .ca and it is in advertisements everywhere. Since it continues to be reinforced in everyday life, I think the .ca remains on solid ground in Canada.
More businesses and people will need a good domain name. I think now more than ever most people realize that it's a virtual world, and you have to have an online presence to be relevant. People will want to have a cool domain name. Businesses will want to have their name as a domain name, or a domain that describes what they do. Unfortunately, many will find that their first choice for a domain name is already registered and/or being used by someone else. I got more end user enquiries this year than in the past - not by a huge amount but it's been picking up. Many only want to offer $100 to $300 for a domain, but I think this is the start of a trend. As good domains become more scarce, you will see prices go up. I think we are at the start of this happening in a significant way.
Domainers will continue to shed some domains and pick up new ones. The great thing about a domain name is that after you register it, you have a full year to evaluate it. Did it get any traffic, did you think of a good business use for it now or in the future? Is it still relevant a year later? Does it have value beyond it's registration fee? All these questions and more we ask ourselves as renewal time comes up. Some domains just don't seem to be worth keeping anymore, so we let those drop. We renew the good ones and most of us are always finding good domains available to register or buy. It is a never ending cycle.
I realize these aren't ground breaking predictions, but I think the .ca extension will just continue a steady course and slow rise as it's been doing already.
What big events could happen for .ca? The biggest change I could see happening would be for CIRA to open up the extension for anyone to register (not just Canadians or businesses with Canadian presence). I would say this is not likely to happen in the coming year, but you never know. It is always a possibility and seems to work fine for others like .es, .co, .de, .mx and .me. What this would do is bring in a whole new (and large) segment of domain investors who want a piece of the Canadian market. I just saw on the news today that Canadians in general are the most active online users in the world. We are a small market but very internet savvy.
Another big event would be a large .ca sale, or portfolio sale. There are some Canadians who own medium to large portfolios of Premium keyword .ca domains. I could see more of these types of domains being sold off in singles, or a large portfolio being acquired as was the case when Yellow Pages bought a big portfolio of .ca domains a number of years ago. Nothing shines a light at an extension more than a large sale, especially if it involves a well known company. Actually, sales like this probably occur from time to time with .ca, they just don't get reported publicly.
My advice for people who hold a portfolio of .ca domains remains the same, pick a few and try to develop them this year. A good place to start is with a blog about a subject you are interested in because you will have the incentive to keep it up, and you will already know about the subject matter. Another good blog or website subject would be to do with your local area - real estate, hotels, restaurants - if you live in an area you can more easily do an online site for it. Remember that you really only need one domain and one website to be successful, and there are many examples of this (Google, Facebook, Amazon). The problem domainers have is they can see the potential in many domains, and keep acquiring them but never do anything. Try this year to develop one or a few domains while you wait for the sales to happen.
An interesting Frank Schilling story
I will leave you with an interesting blog post that involves a person who was trying to acquire davey.ca for a family site. You can read his post here and also Frank's response, which I thought was well worded. I think the blogger's feelings are ones that are typical for many people who aren't familiar with the domain world.
All the best to you for 2011!
What are your opinions on the next year for the .ca extension?