Netcraft's Web Server Survey, released earlier this week, found that the total number of Web sites fell by 182,142 from November to December last year. In November, 36,458,394 Web sites were found, dropping to 36,276,252 in December. The decline is only the second recorded by the survey, which started in August 1995.
The first drop was a blip caused by failures and changes at several large hosting companies, Netcraft said. This time, however, the number of domains not renewed exceeds the number of new registrations, resulting in fewer Web sites overall. The number of .com domains fell by about 130,000 in the last quarter of 2001, according to Netcraft.
Domains are typically registered for a two-year period. Web addresses claimed in late 1999, a period described by Netcraft as one of rampant domain name speculation, are coming up for renewal. Keeping a domain such as .com, .net, or .org for two years costs around US$70 through most registrars.
Many more domains will be coming up for renewal in the coming months, as domain-name speculation accelerated in early 2000, Netcraft said. However the fall in registered domains could be offset by the recent introduction of new top-level domains (TLDs) such as .biz and .info.