Netcraft’s November 2006 web server survey shows there are at least 100 million websites out there. Yup. 100,000,000 websites! I think the first thing that struck my mind was, how is a “website” defined? Netcraft used the hostname/FQDN model, and an unique FQDN that respond to HTTP requests constitute a website.
Is that the correct definition? A poor-man’s load balancing setup with www1, www2 and www3.example.com — are they counted as three websites or one? Also in my early days of creating my first website, it sits on www.<my faculty’s webserver>.edu.au/~<my student ID> — and that was around 12 years ago. Worse still, Internet way back machine actually kept a few pages. Obviously it does not have its own hostname, but why shouldn’t it be counted as a website? Xanga has 27 million users according to Wikipedia, but how many are counted as “websites” by Netcraft? 299 but none user specific.
After all, Netcraft surveys web-servers, but calling them “websites” is confusing.
Next question is, do we need 100 million websites? My feed aggregator fetches 120 RSS feeds for me everyday, and consuming that already feels a bit excessive. 100 million websites? Although it is still far less than the world population, but you won’t be surprised that anyone who is slightly technical inclined would have one website — or at least wants one!
What does that have anything to do with web hosting? People have been predicting the downfall of small web hosting companies and resellers, if giants like Google is moving into the scene. Yahoo! is here, but that does not make a dent. Blogger, Live Spaces and MySpace have built many soap boxes for many individuals, but there are always people who want to be distinctive, want something different, want something more individualistic.
I don’t think the web hosting industry is going away, because there are always people who want to have their own unique website. Is this market over heated? Looks like there are always ways to expand.
The GoDaddy ads at the top of Netcraft’s report sums it up. “Save over 20% and Get your own piece of the Internet“. 200 million websites aren’t that far away.