This diagram shows the number of active hosting accounts on our servers through the years and their "netvalue" - the monthly cost of all active hosting accounts.
Here are some explanations on the diagram. From 2000 to 2004, ICDSoft offered just one hosting plan. It is displayed with green. The current successor of this plan is the Economy plan, but through the years it had different names. In 2004, we introduced a second plan, Business (red on the diagram), as a higher alternative of the then-called Universal plan.
The managed-VPS service, First Class (blue), appeared in 2011. You can hardly see it on the diagram, due to the difference in the number of active accounts on shared servers and on First Class servers. The First Class plan is meant to host high-traffic, resource-intensive, digged/slashdotted sites, etc., and it costs 50 times more than the Economy plan. Therefore, it is normal the number of users on this plan to be times lower than on shared servers.
The "netvalue" (the green line) generally shows our monthly income, but without the reseller discounts included. The spikes in "netvalue" are price increases and account conversions:
- in 2006, the price of the Economy plan increased from $5 to $6 USD,
- in 2012, we stopped offering Economy plan accounts in Hong Kong, and all Economy accounts there were converted to Business. We decided to stop offering low-priced accounts in Hong Kong, due to the large difference in the operating costs between Hong Kong and our other datacenters.
- the 2013 and 2016 spikes are caused by price increases of the Business plan in Hong Kong - from $10 to $15, and then from $15 to $20 USD.
- in 2017, the price of VPS plans in Hong Kong were increased - again, due to the operation costs in Hong Kong. Even though labor takes the biggest part of the hosting service operational costs, colocation and traffic in Hong Kong are times higher than in US and Europe, therefore the higher hosting prices there.
The total number of accounts grew from zero in 2000 to 80,000 in 2012. ICDSoft has the manpower to host and support up to 100,000 customers, and we will not accept more than this number of customers, under any circumstances. Since my goal was (and still is) achieving perfection and not a high number of customers, I ordered the suspension of the Affiliate program back on June 11, 2012. It hasn’t been rebooted since then. This is my post at our internal forum from June 11, 2012:
1. Choose a suitable termination date by giving enough time for affiliates (designers, programmers, etc.) to be able to adjust their sites and affiliate links.
2. Prepare news for the site and notification letter to all affiliates. We have to express our gratitude for their years of work. The current URLs associated with this program should continue to work, but they have to provide information that the program is no longer active.
3. We have to thoroughly explain to our affiliates and resellers the reason for the suspension of the program. The business model of the company implies a maximum number of clients and employees. Anything above a certain level would cause quality to begin to degrade, and the hosting business of ICDSoft was started mainly for this purpose - to set certain quality standards for the webhosting service. The specific maximum number of sites/accounts on ICDSoft servers should be 100,000. We have already reached 81,000, without any advertising, only with affiliate and reseller programs. It is time to stop extending our customer base, considering inertial processes and leaving room for growth of our resellers' business. In the future, we can rethink our strategy, but at this point we have these limits set, and we prefer not to expand further.
4. On the date of the program suspension, pay all due commissions to affiliates, even the smallest amounts which are below their set payment limit.
Since the suspension of the Affiliate program in 2012, the number of hosted accounts started to diminish. Losing customers in the long term does not necessarily mean that they are moving to other providers. Most of these 18,000 accounts (out of 80,000 over a 6-year period) simply disappeared. Nothing lasts forever and this is a universal truth for people, businesses, and even websites.
Despite the decrease in the number of hosted accounts, our revenue and profit was always steady. The average age of the remaining 62,000 accounts is ten years, and that's a reason for our high renewal rate; if a business or a website has already lasted for ten years, then it is very likely it will last for another year. As all statistics at WebHostingWorld.com are live, you will be able to see how these numbers will change from now on. Curious? I am curious too as to what will happen. There is just one thing I can guarantee that will NOT happen - the number of accounts hosted on our servers will never ever go over 100,000. I will not sell account #100001 for all the gold in the world. Period.