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Is the free ride over for Verisign’s .net?

Kevin Murphy, October 27, 2014, 09:16:48 (UTC), Domain Services

Verisign’s .net is on the rocks due to new gTLDs, executives have confirmed.

Speaking to investors and analysts on the company’s third-quarter earnings call last week, CFO George Kilguss said that .net “is experiencing some headwinds from the launch of the new gTLD program”.

Further comments from Kilguss and CEO Jim Bidzos seem to confirm what DI reported a month ago: .net is in trouble.

Latest stats collated by DI show that the .net zone file shrunk by over 121,000 domains in the seven months between March 26 and October 26 this year.

Executives said on the call that .net stood at 15.1 million names at the end of September. That compares to 15.2 million at the end of the previous quarter.

“It’s been relatively flat,” Kilguss said. “I actually think .net has held up pretty well over the year with all these new names coming on… So I don’t view .net’s performance as anything negative.”

Bidzos told analysts that “confusion” around the new gTLDs was to blame.

“I think generally, .net may be more susceptible to that confusion that swirls around new gTLDs,” he said.

He characterized .net as being like new gTLDs, falling into “that category of ‘different'”.

In my view, this is an implicit acknowledgement that .net has been getting a free ride for the last 20 years.

Asked whether the .net weakness could spill over to .com, Bidzos said that .com is a “trusted brand” because it’s almost 30 years old and has a 17-year record of uninterrupted up-time.

While there’s no doubt that .com is a trusted brand, it’s not because of its up-time or longevity, in my view — .net has the same stability record and is actually fractionally older than .com.

The reason .net is suffering now is that that for the last two decades it’s been essentially a defensive play.

People buy the .net when they buy the .com because they’ve been marketed as a bundle — the only two truly generic TLDs out there. Unlike .org, .net lost its semantic differentiation a long time ago.

As .com buyers start to see more and more options for duplicative or defensive registrations in their shopping carts, they’re going to be less likely to grab the .net to match their .com, in my opinion.

And it’s likely to get worse.

“It’s going to continue,” Bidzos said. “We’re seeing hundreds of more new gTLDs coming, and they’re coming at the rate of many every single week. So that confusion is likely to get worse.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Domenclature says:

    To agree, or interpret Bidzos as above means that you also accept that new gTLDs are causing “confusion” out there. Now, that’s the news.

    DotNET dropping from 15.2 million to 15.1 million in a quarter where 500 new extensions were introduced, is rather surprising; surprising that it wasn’t 15 million dotNET drops.

    To start with, I agree with you that dotNET is known to be for losers; I have never registered a single dotNET in my life, BUT had I known that it’d only shed the above insignificant number after the onslaught of these new gTLDs, I might have grabbed some.

    It is startling, really, that dotNET is holding up so remarkably.

    So, if the new gTLDs could not dislodge dotNET, why have they been campaigning, and comparing themselves to the dotCOM?

    It seems to me now, that the new gTLD must fight
    the likes of dotTK, and win, before they are allowed to fight the champions. So it is done in boxing. You just don’t go from amateur to a title bout, but especially NOT the Heavy Weight Champion of the World.

    The title of this piece, and other headlines I’ve seen on blogs, are irresponsible. The English say that a goose quill is more dangerous than a lion’s claw. And it is.

    15.2 million dotNETs down to 15.1 million is the end of a ride? Really? I think it’s rather a sign of WOEFUL performance by the new gTLD scheme.

  2. I registered ambler.net back when you had to tell the registry why you deserved to have one. That is, you had to actually justify that you were a network provider.

    Remember those days?

    Having had it for this long, I’m somewhat attached to it.

  3. NameYouNeed says:

    Come… what BS. I’d take a quality single word generic NET over any of the crap that’s been coming out over the past few months. Ask a normal person “Have you heard of new gTLDs?” and they will stare at you blank stare.

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