It is my pleasure to announce the eighth edition of Behind the Dot: State of the .au Domain – an edition of particular significance as we celebrate 30 years of the .au namespace.

It is perhaps more accurate to think of .au as being ‘30 years young’. Although 30 years behind us sounds like a long time, in an industry as dynamic as this I get the feeling we are but babes.

I personally, have been associated with .au for 17 years. My first ever deliberate interaction with .au was just like anyone else’s; I was looking to help start an online business, so I registered a .au domain name. At the time the namespace was significantly more closed than it is today – I had to get an ABN in order to register a domain name, and it had to be a direct derivative of the business name.

However even then, I recognised that domain names had an important role to play as signposts for the Internet. I saw that this would be very significant in the future, and it lead me to become an active member of the Internet industry – and specifically, the world of domain names.

One characteristic of the Internet is that it is continually evolving: a rapid evolution that spans across all sectors including applications, utilisation, delivery and reach. The one constant from its inception however, is that users will always want genuine, trusted and authoritative content. As the perennial signposts of the Internet, domain names are at the core of that want. From the days of very closed namespaces and restricted options, to policy changes that have increased availability and choice, to the challenges of a booming online world where building trust becomes more difficult, and through to today we’ve almost come full circle. Domain names are now thankfully returning to the fore as trusted signposts, as the domain name industry matures and looks to confirm its role as a core player in Internet navigation.

Domain names are the comfortable constant in a fast paced and dynamic online world. Search has quickly become the solution to a saturated, content-rich internet, bringing with it an entirely different set of issues. Social media platforms come and go, each striving to achieve ultimate popularity. The one thing that is constant throughout the entire evolution of the Internet so far is domain names.

We’re not going to be without our challenges however, and the more innovative we can be around our domain namespaces; the more we can be proactive about and support innovation, the better placed domain names will be to serve the public. One thing we’ve learned about the Internet is that the path of least resistance always wins. If domain names can’t be along that pathway then we won’t succeed.

When auDA introduced the new competition model for the .au namespace on July 1, 2002, it felt like a real milestone was reached. Despite all the work involved in getting to that point, at go-live we at AusRegistry knew we’d only made it to the starting line. There was still much work to do.

Then in November 2007 the namespace reached 1 million .au domain names and there was an undeniable sense that .au had ‘hit the big time’. Each milestone we reach is testament to the fact that the .au community has been open to change and supportive of innovation.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t touch on how we got here. In the time that AusRegistry has been involved in .au, our role has remained the same. We need to run a reliable, predictable, highly resilient and available service. Our job is to make sure .au works – all the time. We are of course here due to the support of auDA, playing its role from a regulatory standpoint and supporting innovation.

Our industry also benefits from the passion and ongoing work of the innovators; the investors, web developers and Internet users finding unique and creative ways to use and grow the namespace.

But the heroes of .au are the ones in the trenches, talking to the public and turning .au into the sellable product that it is – the Registrars and retailers. We’ve had a long history of working closely with our Registrars, trying to understand what makes their businesses better, faster and stronger. What we sell as a Registry is virtual; a piece of online real estate. The Registrars transform .au into a threedimensional product. They give life to a domain name because they make it function, and make it the signpost that it is.

30 years of .au is a significant milestone, and one we recognise and celebrate in conjunction with all those who have contributed to the namespace’s growth and success thus far. But it is also a chance to look ahead – to remind ourselves that in today’s environment of “disrupt or die”, innovation and an ability to be nimble to the demands of the market will be key to sustaining this success into the future.

We look back proudly at having played our small part in the development of .au. As I have already commented, we are but babes. I get the feeling .au has plenty more challenges and opportunities as it reaches its next phase of evolution.

I am pleased to present this special edition of Behind the Dot: State of the .au Domain. As always, we welcome your feedback and input on the magazine and thank you for reading.

You can access Edition 8 of Behind the Dot, as well as all previous editions on the AusRegistry Research page. We encourage your feedback, and thank you for reading and supporting the .au domain namespace.