Old habits die hard. And that clearly is true for what people are used to in the domain name market. While 100’s of new extensions have been launched the past few years, most people stick to what they know. There is some clear proof of this with the .uk extension. This was launched two years ago as the replacement for .co.uk. Nominet, the registry behind both .co.uk and .uk, put everything into place so that owners of a .co.uk domain name would be able to make a smooth transition towards .uk. Two years later, it turns out that hardly anybody has actually made the switch.
The raw numbers are clear: two years after the launch, there are still over 16 times as many domain names on the 3’d level (this includes not only .co.uk, but also .me.uk and .org.uk) as there are names directly under the second level. More then 10 million names under the 3d level, and slightly over half a million directly under the second level.
And even if we look at the newly registered domain names, we notice that most people still prefer a .co.uk to a name directly under .uk. Since the start of this year, there have been well over 6 times as many .co.uk registrations compared to the number of 2nd level .uk domain names being added.
Looking into how much of those names are actually used, shows even a bigger difference. Google tells us they indexed over 1 billion webpages under .co.uk and only 14 million under .uk. So there would be about 70 times as much information available under .co.uk than under .uk.
Out in the street, active usage of 2nd level .uk domain names is hard to come by. Some large governmental organisations did change their website to .uk, like the NHS or the British Library. But most commercial websites remain faithful to .co.uk. So much even that spotting an actively used .uk domain name being promoted in the wild is something worth tweeting about.
Direct registration under .uk are however picking up the pace. Their numbers have only been growing since the launch. Even almost doubled since the same time last year. While for .co.uk the numbers remain reasonably steady and are even going down slightly. So while .uk still has a long way to go, contrary to .co.uk it does have a positive growth. Probably the future is in .uk, but expect many more years of .co.uk being the standard.