Melbourne IT gets growth from domain names

Despite the recent dip in its share price, Melbourne IT has unveiled plans for the coming year, which include expanding its domain name business, developing e-commerce tools and setting up more incubators.

"We are producing the picks and shovels of the internet gold rush of the 2000s, the domain names, the digital certificates and other key e-commerce infrastructure tools," Peter Gerrand, Melbourne IT's founding CEO, said yesterday.

Melbourne IT's subsidiary, Internet Names WorldWide (INWW), currently registers domain names ending with .com.au and generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) such as .com, .net and .org.

Just when you think the number of domain names that are not taken are running low, the internet governing body ICANN said it will introduce six to 10 new gTLDs, such as .per and .nom for individuals, and .firm, .shop and .info for commercial use. It also plans to introduce "chartered memberships" using reference lists, for example .tra for travel agents registered with IATA.

The introduction of new gTLDs will increase the gTLD market size to over one billion names within five years, said Gerrand. That market size is currently estimated at 160 million domain names, of which only 12 million have been allocated.

For Melbourne IT, the introduction of new gTLDs can only mean further growth, considering it has registered 397,337 gTLDs since April 1999 compared to 176,013 .com.au domain names since December 1996.

While domain names registration has brought in the bulk (72 per cent) of the company's 1999 revenues, Melbourne IT is also investing in developing e-commerce tools and setting up incubators. E-commerce tools include digital certificates from Verisign and industry trading hubs for business-to-business transactions.

The company's Advanced Services Application Centre, a joint venture with Ericsson, is also developing telecommunication products for Ericsson's global customers including messaging services, Intelligent Network products and WAP/3GM applications.

Melbourne IT's revenue in fiscal 1999 of $14.8 million exceeded its prospectus forecast by $2.4 million, or 19 per cent. With Q1, 2000 revenues of $11.3 million, the company is confident that it will exceed its prospectus forecast of 24 million by a significant margin, according to Rob Stewart, Melbourne IT's chairman.

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