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information Share Your Local Perspective – I See Micromobility

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Domainers should probably get out more. No, this is not an article about life-work balance, or maintaining a social network, or the virtues of exercise, although all of those are important. Nor is it a call to consider taking a break from domains, or at least domain acquisitions – I wrote about that in Time For A Break From Domain Names.

We get ideas for domain names from many places. Tech publications, social media, news, etc., and of course right here on NamePros. @FavourB started a discussion What Is The Next Big Thing? that has garnered more than 37,000 views. Another place to see what might be a niche to consider is by paying close attention to your local area.

The superpower of being part of the NamePros community is that you have access to expertise and ideas shared by a smart global community. Let’s put that to work by sharing what we see happening where we live. What is changing about business and daily life in your city or neighbourhood? Is it likely other areas around the world are undergoing the same change? How would the change you observe impact domain name demand? Please share your perspective in the comment section below. So to start, when I looked around where I live, what did I notice?

The View From Victoria

I live in Victoria, BC, Canada, on the west coast of Canada. It is a city of just over 92,000, although there are about a dozen separate municipalities in the greater area, with a regional population of about 400,000.

The specific neighbourhood I live in has a population of roughly 13,000. It is a mix of traditional homes, middle and high density housing, tourism, commercial establishments, a bit of light industry, government offices, a deep water cruise port, and the provincial capital. There is a diverse mix of ages in our neighbourhood, including many seniors, like me.

If I compare now to say ten years ago, what significant change do I notice? People are getting around in many more ways. When I walk the few blocks to the grocery store, I routinely see, in addition to people walking, arriving by car or bus, many people on bikes and e-bikes, mobility scooters, cargo e-bikes, skateboards, electric and unpowered scooters, and sometimes I see hoverboards, tricycles and for-hire electric and pedal powered micro-taxis.

But is the trend I see here repeated elsewhere? Are more people using personal transportation devices? Some countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Japan have had heavy bike use for a long time. This research article from a few years old, Cycling Behaviour in 17 Countries Across 6 Continents, looks at things like participation, typical distances, and purposes of bike trips.

The key change in recent years has been the rise in electric powered or electric-assisted bicycles and other personal transportation devices, especially scooters. There is a wealth of data on steeply increasing adoption of e-bikes in various parts of the world.

The Rise of E-Bikes

While bicycles have been around for a long time, since 1817 although back then they were called ‘swiftwalker’ or ‘velocipede’, they did not become widespread until the 1890’s.

Although the patent for the first electric bicycle was in 1899, it was only in the 1990’s that modern e-bikes began to appear, and most e-bike growth has been in the last 10-15 years. Read more about the history of the electric bicycle here.

The local climate supports personal transportation here in Victoria, and the city is relatively compact and flat. A number of years ago the city started an ambitious program to create a network of protected lanes to encourage cycling and other personal transportation forms.

The e-bike revolution of the past decade or so has been driven by three main factors: advances in battery and electric power control technology, more people living in cities and not needing to commute large distances, and concern about climate change. Electric power assist has opened cycling to a wider age and fitness demographic.

Global E-Bike Market

While research estimates vary to some degree, BCCResearch suggests a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the e-bike market of just under 12% for the next few years, with a current global market of about $45 billion. The accompanying BCCResearch blog article points out that e-bike production is currently dominated by China, with over 90% of the market, and the boom in sales is strongest in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cargo Bikes On Rise

By adding power, it becomes possible to have larger bikes that can carry more people and cargo. I regularly see commercial e-cycles in our area transporting tourists, and daily see parents with small children in cargo bikes. Cargo bikes make it possible to do weekly grocery shopping, or even haul heavier items.

There is an International Cargo Bike Festival, and they have an interesting article on a Short History of the Cargo Bike.

Electric Mobility Scooters

But it is not just bikes and e-bikes, but the diversity of types of personal transportation modes. Given the age demographic in the high density area right around where I live, and a concentrated hub of services, I see a lot of mobility scooter use by seniors. A study by AlliedMarketResearch suggests the CAGR in the electric mobility scooter niche is 6.5%, with the total size of the electric mobility scooter market projected to reach just over $3.2 billion by 2030.

Is There A Term?

The term for small personalized transportation devices is micromobility. That term still has limited use, and is in some dictionaries and not others. A Google search for the term in quotation marks yields a relatively modest 1.7 million search results. While some write it micro-mobility, mainline dictionaries mainly incorporate the term without the hyphen.

I used Google Books Ngram Viewer to show the relative mentions in books of the terms ebike, e-bike, micromobility and cargo bike. Unfortunately, the latest year with data is 2019. I suspect all of these terms have increased in popularity since then. Keep in mind this is based only on book mentions. It is interesting that the formally correct form, e-bike, has many more occurrences than ebike.

Image-Ngram-micromobility-terms.jpg

Number of mentions of key micromobility terms in Google Books from 1990-2019. Data courtesy of Google Books Ngram Viewer.

Micromobility Business Niches

Many people use micromobility devices, but does that translate into commercial significance, and ultimately demand for domain names?

We probably first think of production, sales and repairs/service. I did a quick check, and my city has at least 28 sales and/or service businesses for cycles or e-bikes or both. Some of these specialize in cargo bikes.

But that is only part of the micromobility market that would include all of:
  • sales
  • parts and repairs
  • rentals
  • sharing
  • clubs and information
  • manufacturing
  • accessories
  • urban planning for micromobility
  • security devices and services
  • insurance
  • storage facilities
  • charging devices and networks
  • cargo bike delivery services
  • battery technology
  • guided tours
  • commercial passenger services
Micromobility and DISPLACE Framework

Earlier this year I introduced the DISPLACE framework for evaluating niches and sectors.

For example, local bike/scooter repair shops would be relatively low entry barrier (L), could be found almost everywhere (E), and are likely be scaleable (S), especially with a franchise model. The level of profit (P) is probably variable, and that might influence willingness to pay a premium domain price. Check out all 8 DISPLACE factors here.

As another example, if one looked at production of a new type of personal transportation device the potential profitability (P) would be higher, as would innovation (I), possibly disruption (D) and creativity (C). However, there would definitely not be a low entry barrier (L), since significant startup funding would be required.

Micromobility Rental and Sharing

Many people may want to use micromobility, but not want to purchase, maintain and store the devices. A number of the biggest companies in the sector offer renting or sharing of e-scooters, e-bikes and sometimes other micromobility devices.

Here are some major companies in that space:
  1. Lime operate on the domain hack li.me, and claims to be the world’s largest provider of rental electric vehicles. They rent electric bikes and scooters. Lime operates in more than 275 cities in 30 countries.
  2. Bird operates in a similar space. After financial struggles they have restructured and are now part of Third Lane Mobility. Bird operates on the domain name bird.co.
  3. Spin offers electric bikes and scooters, and has a focus on North American university campuses. Spin, and others, operate through an app, and their domain name is spin.app.
  4. HelloRide has been around since 2016, with more than 500 million users. HelloRide offers both bikes and e-bikes, and operates on HelloRide-global.com.
  5. Superpedestrian uses the matching domain name Superpedestrian.com and offers electric scooter rental in a number of European cities. They recently acquired North American micromobility startup Zagster.
Brand Names

It is hard to make general rules about branding preferences for any sector, but it seems most players in this space emphasize sustainability, ease of use, convenience, safety, often with an upbeat playful brand tone geared to a younger clientele.

There seems openness to a variety of domain extensions. Some companies in this space have already gone out of business, and as with any new area there will be successes and failures.

Interestingly, not just Lime, but most of the larger micromobility rental companies, use a fluorescent green branding colour.

Several of the major automotive companies, including Bosch and General Motors, have significant e-bike divisions.

Domains

I used dotDB to determine the number of extensions registered in some micromobility terms, as well as total appearances in longer domain names.

Term
exact TLDs
total TLDs
bike
344​
273,190​
cycle
265​
182,174​
ebike
293​
43,897​
e-bike
166​
7,302​
escooter
129​
4,636​
e-scooter
94​
1,144​
micromobility
83​
404​
scooter
213​
36,784​

Number of extensions the exact term is registered in, as well as the total number of domains including that term.
Data is courtesy of dotDB.

Major Sales

Here are a few major sales that appear in NameBio related to bikes, ebikes and other micromobility devices:
Bike.net was also a major sale ($60,000 at Uniregistry), but is in use for motorcycles.

The name micromobility.com is in use by a company offering electric bike and scooter rentals in North America and southern Europe, mainly Italy, but I could not find a report of the domain sale.

Extensions

While most startups in micromobility niches are likely to choose legacy extensions, or .io, or .co, there are a few extensions that come to mind, including:
  • .app – all micromobility rentals operate from an app
  • .bike
  • .cc – some cycling clubs and companies adopted .cc
  • .link
  • .me – drawing on personalized transportation angle
  • .rentals
  • .repair
  • .shop or .store
  • .solutions – possibly a match for sector
According to nTLDstats, there has not been much change in .bike extension registration numbers since first half of 2023, with just over 20,000 registrations.

NameBio shows only 15 sales in .bike extension, the largest at $9500.

Using the Google site:.bike command, with Tools to indicate number of results, I found just over 1.5 million search results. That is pretty low, although many seemed genuine results.

Company Names

I also used OpenCorporates to search on prevalence of some key terms in active company and organization names. The data is shown in the following table. Keep in mind that this is a search on those terms, not the total number of companies operating in those niches.

Term
Active OpenCorporates Listings
bike
16,246​
cycle
12,890​
ebike
383​
e-bike
1,232​
escooter
19​
e-scooter
50​
micromobility
66​
scooter
2,290​

Number of active OpenCorporates listings for each term. Note this includes both company and organization names, and also known as, or formerly known as, names.

Clearly bike and cycle are much more popular in company names than the other terms. The proper spelling e-bike is preferred over ebike in corporate naming, even though the reverse was true in number of registered extensions registered.

Of course micromobility is just one part of an overall move to electrification, a topic covered earlier in the NamePros Blog: Electrify Your Domain Name Portfolio.

Most view micromobility in terms of bikes and scooters, but articles such as The 17 Most Innovative Concepts in Urban Micromobility blur the line between tiny cars and larger micromobility offerings.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that a number of NamePros members pointed out the increasing popularity of e-bikes some time ago. For example, in 2017 @EmotiveDomains started the discussion Showcase Your eBike Domain Names.

If you are looking for a conventional approach to spotting trends early, check out the NamePros article Finding Technology Trends and Opportunities. That article covered Google Trends, TechCrunch, Estibot Domain Trends, and relevant NamePros Discussions. More recently, the article Six Ways to Use the New NameBio Trends Reports covers that resource, along with a brief look at DotDB Top Keywords, Afternic Monthly Sales Data, Sedo Market Trends and other resources.

I look forward to your contributions in the comment section below on what trends you are seeing in your neighbourhood.

In case after reading this article you have visions of me zipping around on an e-bike, e-scooter or electric skateboard, I don’t.



Acknowledge NameBio, dotDB, nTLDstats, and OpenCorporates for research assistance in this article, as well as the various authors cited. For disclosure, I do own some domain names for the micromobility sector.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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Another amazing article Mr. Bob. Thanks you for sharing. Waiting for more niches to be explored in future.

Trends can be checked using free tool: https://trends.google.com/trends/

There are also similar tools from other tool sites and social media sites as well (e.g. Pinterest).

Although, not directly related - here is another tool to explore different niches and audience queries - https://answerthepublic.com/
 
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Thank you Mr Bob, as usual, top notch reporting. I hand regged CARGOBIKING.com last year got it listed on Sedo and Dan. Trying to sell for $3k. Maybe I'm asking too little for it.
 
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I recently returned from Toronto where I witnessed an e-bike explosion of all types and description.

I've sold e-bike and related domains for tourism, bike shops and accessories for use in US, Canada and Germany. I'm thankful to say all domains have fully developed websites, unlike my own. I'm the only one in my neighbourhood with an e-bike: KlondikeBike. :xf.wink:)
 
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