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ICM buys .sex for up to $3 million

ICM Registry, the .xxx domain name registry, may have paid as much as $3 million for the .sex gTLD.

Internet Marketing Solutions Limited, the only other applicant for .sex, withdrew its application this week.

Word is that ICM forked out somewhere between $2 million and $3 million for exclusive rights to the string.

I hear it was a private deal, not an auction organized by a third party.

I wonder whether the price was affected by the revelation by ICANN earlier this month that it considers porn-related gTLD strings “sensitive” for no particular reason.

It’s quite low, considering that sex.com sold for $13 million and sex.xxx sold for $3 million just a couple of months ago.

ICM now is the only applicant for .sex, .porn and .adult. It plans to grandfather existing .xxx registrants into the new namespaces, assuming ICANN doesn’t throw a spanner in the works.

Crazy housing market reflected in .london landrush

The world’s insatiable appetite for property in London is being reflected in applications for domain names during .london’s landrush, according to the registry.

Just a few days before the landrush ends, over 30 applications have been filed for properties.london, Dot London said, and apartments.london and houses.london “are among the most sought after” domains.

The registry said:

Trades that serve the property industry are also proving popular, with addresses such as removals.london and scaffolding.london receiving numerous applications, while there are three times as many applications for estateagent.london as for lettingagent.london.

The property market in London is utter madness right now. The average price of a house here is £567,392 ($963,275), up over 12% on a year ago, according to Zoopla.

I could buy a three-bedroom semi-detached house in the town of my birth for the price of a parking space in London.

Apartments literally smaller than a snooker table were selling for £90,000 ($152,000) two years ago.

It’s madness, I tell you, madness.

While much of the house price boom can be blamed on overseas investors, many of whom leave their properties vacant, Dot London is at least giving the city’s residents special treatment in .london.

The landrush is being carried out simultaneously with the sunrise period. Both commenced April 29 and end July 31.

Trademark owners get priority, followed by applicants with London addresses. In the event domains are contested by multiple applicants with the same priority, there’ll be a private auction.

Dot London says that the most-popular landrush domain is nightlife.london, completely unrelated to property. It has more than 40 applications.

Amazon and Google deal on .talk, .play, .drive and others

Google and Amazon have started making deals to settle their new gTLD contention sets.

Google won three contention sets against Amazon this week, judging by the latest withdrawals, while Amazon won two.

Amazon won .talk and .you after Google, the only other applicant, withdrew.

Neither company appears to have a “You” brand, unless you count YouTube, but the .talk settlement strongly suggests that Google Talk, the company’s instant messaging client, is on the way out.

When Google applied for .talk in 2012 it intended to give Talk users custom domains to act as a contact point, but in 2013 Google started to indicate that it will be replaced as a brand by Google Hangouts.

The withdrawal seems to suggest that the existence of a gTLD application, a relatively small investment, is not an overwhelming factor when companies consider product rebranding.

I wonder what effect a live, active TLD will have on similar decisions in future.

But Google won the two-horse races for .dev and .drive and after Amazon withdrew its applications.

Google has a product called Google Drive, while Amazon runs Amazon Cloud Drive. Both companies have developer programs, though Google’s is arguably the more substantial of the two.

Google has also won .play — Google Play is its app store — after Amazon, Radix and Star Registry’s withdrawals. Amazon does not have a Play brand.

Google has also withdrawn its application for .book, leaving six remaining applicants, including Amazon, in the contention set.

I don’t currently know whether these contention sets were settled privately or via a third-party auction.

.tk passes 25 million domains

The .tk registry has become only the second TLD to pass 25 million domain names.

Netherlands-based Dot TK passed the milestone at the weekend, according to statistics posted on its web site, and today has 25,068,128 domains under management.

It’s grown by a whopping 837,703 names in the last 30 days alone.

That means Tokelau, the tiny island nation the ccTLD represents, has a nominal 17,900 domains per citizen.

The reason for the huge numbers is that .tk names are usually free to register anywhere in the world, with Dot TK using a freemium model through which it only makes money from add-on services.

.tk became the largest ccTLD last year, hitting 16.7 million names in April 2013 and passing Germany’s .de, which today has about 15.7 million domains under management.

Being free, you’d expect there to be a disproportionate amount of nefarious activity in .tk, but that does not appear to be the case any more.

The TLD doesn’t show up in the top 10 most abused TLDs in the most recent report of the Anti-Phishing Working Group (pdf).

Architelos says (pdf) it’s the 47th-safest out of 72 TLDs, scoring it better than .com, .net, .co and many other popular TLDs.

That’s all folks! Final gTLD app gets approved

ICANN has finally finished evaluating all 1,930 new gTLD applications from the 2012 round.

Indian conglomerate Tata Group’s dot-brand .tata passed Extended Evaluation (pdf) on Friday, having apparently secured the non-objection of Morocco, which has a province of the same name.

Calculated from Reveal Day — June 13, 2012 — it’s taken a little over two years (765 days) for every bid to pass through first Initial Evaluation and then, if necessary, Extended Evaluation.

Calculated from the first batch of Initial Evaluation results being released, it’s 483 days.

A total of 1,783 applications passed IE. A further 38 failed, of which 35 passed EE. There have been 211 withdrawals so far and, due to contention, another 380 are expected.