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According to Vince Cate, who has been managing .ai domains in Anguilla for a long time, as of this year, the total number of registered .ai websites has doubled in the past year, reaching 287,432. Cate estimates that Anguilla will generate
Due to the AI craze, Anguilla is expected to earn millions of dollars this year from the surge in demand for domain names ending in .ai.
A small island in the Caribbean now boasts a digital treasure trove.
Anguilla is a British territory located in the Caribbean, known for its coral reefs and white sandy beaches. However, since the 1990s, it has also been responsible for allocating internet addresses ending in .ai for residents and businesses to register websites. Until recently, it was one of hundreds of country and region-specific domain names, easily overlooked.
Stability.ai, X.ai owned by Elon Musk, and Character.ai are just a few of the popular AI startups that have acquired .ai domain names allocated by the island and its cays. Many tech giants also own .ai domain names: Google.ai and Facebook.ai direct visitors to their companies' AI-focused pages, while Microsoft.ai showcases the company's Azure AI services.
According to Vince Cate, who has been managing .ai domains in Anguilla for a long time, as of this year, the total number of registered .ai websites has doubled in the past year, reaching 287,432. Cate estimates that Anguilla will generate up to $30 million in revenue from domain registration fees in 2023, accounting for 10% of Anguilla's GDP.
.ai was once one of the lesser-known top-level domains allocated to countries and regions. In recent years, demand for .ai websites has experienced slow but steady growth. However, nine months ago, a sudden surge in .ai domain names highlighted the widespread AI frenzy and its extended impact on the global economy. Since the launch of ChatGPT, more and more tech companies have raised billions of dollars, competed for tech talent, and ensured access to powerful but increasingly scarce chips. Domain names may not sound very important, but for an industry obsessed with innovative branding, the right name can be significant.
"The situation here has been very different since November 30th," Cate mentioned the date of ChatGPT's public launch.
Cate moved to Anguilla from the United States in 1994, working on early cryptocurrency payment systems and soon taking over the management of Anguilla's .ai registrations. While .ai registrations have been growing for years, he said they "spiked" from December to March of last year and then leveled off.
Overall, the number of .ai domain names is minuscule compared to registered .com domains. According to Matt Zook, a professor at the University of Kentucky who runs a research project called ZookNIC that tracks global domain name registrations, the number of .com domains is approaching 160 million.
However, for Anguilla, this is big business. The territory, located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, covers approximately 35 square miles and has a population of less than 20,000. Its economy relies mainly on tourism, which was hit during the pandemic. Now, it is benefiting from the high demand for .ai domain names and the planned increases in registration fees.
The price of .ai domain names may vary, just like .com or any other type of domain name, but registrars like GoDaddy or NameCheap must pay Anguilla a fixed fee: $140 for .ai domain name registration every two years, up from $120 since mid-April.
According to public records, Anguilla earned $7.4 million from .ai domain registrations in 2021, previously estimated to reach $8.3 million in 2023. Now, Cate estimates that Anguilla will earn between $25 million and $30 million this year from domain registrations.
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