When the Eastern European country of Montenegro became independent in 2006, leading to the launch of its .me domain two years later, it introduced one of the most popular domains yet seen on the Internet, with sales of domains ending in the .me extension that continue to soar.
The attraction of a domain using .me is mainly due to its appeal to sharp marketers, who see the use in domains such as about.me, fix.me, repair.me or gamble.me as an effective booster if used cleverly.
The Montenegro government was smart enough to recognise the worldwide potential of the extension and decided .me would be operated as a generic name, appointing doMEn, d.o.o. as the new registry operator. The company is a Montenegro based joint venture trading as .ME Registry whose partners are Afilias Limited, GoDaddy.com, Inc., and ME-net d.o.o.
In 2008 the domain achieved almost immediate success; in terms of the number of web pages indexed by Google among all TLDs, .me sites have enjoyed the fastest growth of more than 50 percent a month. In the same year, .me topped its potential rivals .mobi and .asia in Alexa Internet top one million websites with 341 .me sites versus 233 .mobi sites and 86 .asia sites. Its popularity was underlined by the fact that the .mobi extension is a good two years older, and the .asia extension was launched four months ahead of .me.
On February 10th 2009 the registry operator for .me reported that the 200 000 milestone had been passed after only 10 months with the registration of OpenDoor.me, registered in Fukuoka, Japan and making the domain extension the fastest growing new ccTLD launch on record.
The extension has become popular globally for both personal and business uses, and is available and being registered aggressively in many parts of the world particularly those that use the English language.
"The appeal for dot-ME domain names is truly global," said the registry's executive director, Predrag Lesic. "Beyond the United States, people and companies from countries such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom and China are registering dot-ME domain names."
Some of the more than 181 countries representing the thousands of .ME registrations include Canada, India, Australia, Israel, Spain, the Netherlands and its originating country, Montenegro. More than 100 registrars offer the top-level domain.
"Having hit 200 000 registered domains in a mere ten months signals to us that dot-ME is seen as a valuable online asset," adds Lesic. "The best part is there are still so many great names available, in every language."
One of the most expensive domains sold during this period was insure.me, which was sold for $68 005. Shortly, it was followed by date.me, which was sold on a premium auction for $70 000 and love.me for $32 500.
The .me domains have also proved popular with some companies and individuals seeking to exploit it as an acronym for the Middle East and the U.S. state of Maine.
Current statistics from Alexa show that .me has over 440 websites in the top million Internet sites, compared with .mobi on almost 260 and .asia with almost 110.