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As .stream is won, ICANN’s auction list empties

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

.stream has become the latest new gTLD contention set to be settled prior to its ICANN auction, leaving ICANN’s auction schedule looking barren.

Famous Four Media beat Hughes Satellite Systems to the string, which was due to auction May 27.

The four strings scheduled for bidding April 29 — .living, .fun, .map and .search — were also recently settled.

All that remains on ICANN’s schedule is the controversial .game/.games contention set, which will employ a unique process designed for contention sets created by inconsistent singular/plural string confusion rulings.

The five .game applicants and one .games applicant (Donuts) are still due to hit the block May 20.

A couple dozen other gTLDs are still pending ICANN auction but do not have set dates due to various challenges and disputes.

.london clear winner as M+M releases raw reg data

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

.london accounts for over 37% of sales in Minds + Machines’ portfolio of live gTLDs, according to company data released this morning.

M+M published registration figures for its 19 generally available TLDs as part of a trading update ahead of its full-year financials.

The data shows that four of its top five strings are geographic in nature.

TLDDomains% of Portfolio
LONDON62,14337.58
BAYERN29,35117.75
WORK20,60512.46
KIWI11,4066.90
NRW7,7014.66
BEER6,9574.21
COUNTRY5,3223.22
YOGA3,2721.98
GOP2,9401.78
CASA2,9191.77
FASHION2,2051.33
SURF2,0801.26
WEDDING1,7831.08
HORSE1,7551.06
COOKING1,4910.90
VODKA1,4150.86
FISHING1,2970.78
GARDEN4000.24
RODEO3220.19
Total165,364

The TLDs have launch dates ranging from April 2014 to April 2015.

It should be noted that .kiwi and .gop are run by M+M clients, with M+M providing the back-end only.

There’s a delta of up to 5% between these reg numbers and the numbers of domains appearing in the zone files of some of these gTLDs.

For example, we count 59,162 domains in .london’s zone file and 27,955 in .bayern today, suggesting that on any given day a couple thousand domains are not configured in the DNS.

In other TLDs, such as .kiwi and .work, the zone file numbers and the reg numbers have almost no difference at all.

The company also disclosed that in its registrar business “Premium Names”, which command a higher fee, account for 3% of its registrations and 25% of revenue.

M+M recently headhunted Trent Tucker from Rightside to manage premium name sales.

Dirty tricks claimed in .music fight

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

A .music hopeful has tried to add over 300 pages of documents to its new gTLD application, apparently in an effort to leapfrog competitors, and its rival community applicant is far from happy.

DotMusic Limited submitted the change request (pdf) in order to add some Public Interest Commitments to its .music bid.

Rival .Music LLC now claims that it is “outrageous and unfair for ICANN to allow this applicant to abuse the PIC process in this way” and has filed a Request for Reconsideration.

Of the eight .music bidders, these two companies are the only formal “community” applicants.

Under the rules of the new gTLD program, community applicants can avoid having to fight an auction if they win a strict Community Priority Evaluation.

To avoid confusion: DotMusic Limited is the applicant led by Constantine Roussos; .Music LLC (aka Far Further) is led by John Styll.

Far Further fought a CPE last year but lost in spectacular fashion, scoring just 3 out of the 16 available points, a long way shy of the 14 points required for a pass.

The Roussos applicant has now submitted eight new proposed Public Interest Commitments — things it promises to do to protect registrants and rights holders — as an addendum to its application.

That’s pretty standard stuff.

What’s unusual are the 308 pages of additional “clarifications” that seek to explain how the proposed PICs relate to its original application.

They’re not changes to the application, technically speaking, but they are a way to get hundreds of extra pages of content into the public record ahead of DotMusic’s own CPE.

According to Styll, this latest gambit is nothing more than an attempt to score more CPE points. He told ICANN:

the 308 additional pages of “clarifications” contain wording that clearly utilizes learnings from previous CPE results (including our own), in violation of ICANN policy

Complicating matters, it turns out that Far Further tried to make some substantive changes to its application back in May 2014, but had the request declined by ICANN “in order to be fair to other applicants”.

That was prior to ICANN’s publication of guidelines governing change request, Styll says.

Because of this alleged discrepancy between how the two competing change requests were handled, Far Further wants a second crack at the CPE for its own application.

Its RfR (pdf) asks ICANN to reverse its May 2014 decision, allow its change request, throw out the original results of its CPE and refer the CPE to a new Economist Intelligence Unit panel for a full reevaluation.

Failing that, it wants ICANN to throw out the 308 pages of “clarifications” submitted by DotMusic.

Both applicants have the written support of dozens of music industry groups.

There’s some crossover, but Far Further’s backers appear to me to be a little more “establishment” than DotMusic’s, including the likes of the Recording Industry Association of America.

The other, non-community applicants are Amazon, Google, Donuts, Radix, Famous Four Media and Entertainment Names.

With Google and Amazon in the mix, if it goes to auction, .music could easily be an eight-figure auction along the lines of .app, which sold to Google for $25 million.

In my view, winning a CPE is the only way DotMusic has a chance of getting its hands on .music, short of combining with another applicant.

Google wins .map and .search

Kevin Murphy, April 21, 2015, Domain Registries

Google has secured two gTLDs representing two of its core services.

The company has won .search and .map, fighting off competition from Amazon, Donuts, Famous Four Media for .search and Rightside and Amazon for .map.

All the losing bidders have now withdrawn their applications.

Both strings were due to head to ICANN auction April 29, but appear to have been settled privately instead.

That means the winning bids will not be disclosed.

Google plans to operate .map as an open gTLD in which anyone can register.

It had originally planned to keep .search domains limited to itself, until ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee and others complained about so-called “closed generics”.

Its updated .search application talks about restricting .search to sites that offer search functionality that adheres to a certain technical standard.

Specifically, domains in .search will have to follow a certain URL format (example.search/?q=query, the format used by Google itself) for queries.

It’s going to be very interesting how Google goes about implementing the plans in its application. We could be looking at some innovative or possibly controversial services.

Warren Buffett party firm beats Google to .fun

Kevin Murphy, April 20, 2015, Domain Registries

An 80-year-old seller of party supplies, owned by Warren Buffett, has won the rights to the new gTLD .fun, after the other two applicants withdrew.

Oriental Trading Company plans to operate the gTLD as a “restricted” space where only the company and its partners can register, according to its application.

Quite why this isn’t on hold as a “closed generic”, I don’t know.

The application states .fun will be:

an authoritative Internet space for OTC, its affiliates and partners where OTC can develop an unlimited number of domain names dedicated and relevant to “fun” and to provide Internet users with content, services and products they need, while being assured of brand authenticity.

The other two applicants were Google and Dot Strategy. Both applications have now been withdrawn.

OTC sells balloons, party hats, banners and such. It was acquired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in 2012 after filing for bankruptcy protection.

In other withdrawal news, games maker Konami today became the latest company to dump its plans for a dot-brand, in this case .konami.