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Australia considers dumping the .com.

Kevin Murphy, April 20, 2015, 11:35:27 (UTC), Domain Policy

Australian domain overseer auDA is thinking about allowing people to register .au domains directly at the second level for the first time.

The organization has opened up a consultation that would allow registrations such as example.au, rather than just the current system of example.com.au, example.org.au and so on.

The move follows the successful recent releases of 2LDs in the UK (.uk) and New Zealand (.nz) ccTLDs and can be seen as a bid to remain competitive in the face of the new gTLD program’s huge expansion of TLD choice.

A consultation paper (pdf) published today reads:

It is suggested that unprecedented competition from new gTLDs requires .au to be more responsive to global market forces. For .au to remain a strong and highly-regarded TLD we need not only to rely on its distinctive Australian identity and good reputation, but continue to innovate in order to counter the likely impact of hundreds of new gTLDs flooding the market. Whilst .au is currently very popular with Australian users, there is potential for new gTLDs to erode the brand equity in .au.

Currently, .au has over a dozen different second-level options, but about 85% of registrations are in .com.au. The TLD has just shy of three million names today.

Complicating matters slightly, the different 2LDs have different registration policies, so auDA would need to figure out a way to harmonize them for direct registrations.

auDA speculates that direct registrations may increase the adoption of .au domain names by individuals not currently able to obtain .com.au names but unaware of the individual-focused .id.au (it exists, apparently), thereby growing the .au name space.

It also worries that many second-level direct registrations may turn out to be defensives, registered by the registrants of the matching .com.au names.

The consultation is open for comments until June 1.

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Comments (7)

  1. Mark says:

    Will be still .com.au more popular and used? I betcha.

  2. Leo says:

    “The move follows the successful recent releases of 2LDs in the UK (.uk)”

    Is the direct.uk launch generally considered successful? I had no idea.

  3. Dirk Krischenowski says:

    First of all, we all saw this coming. And second, the demand .au may not as high as expected if you see the .uk data:

    2015 .UK Register statistics
    Total domains under management at end of month
    2015 Third-level Second-level
    January 10,280,332 252,497
    February 10,279,112 270,323
    March 10,298,553 287,805

    • Dan Rodgers says:

      To be fair, it’s a slow process as people need to understand the new extension.

      And brands aren’t going to change their domain overnight while the general public still barely understand that there’s anything other than .COM and .CO.UK

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