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ICANN expects up to 2,305 new gTLD applications

After months of speculation, ICANN has finally revealed how many new generic top-level domain applications it expects to receive.

The lowest amount appears to be 2,091.

That’s the number of applications in the TLD Application System when it was taken offline due to the data leakage bug on April 12, ICANN said.

Another 214 applications had been registered but not yet paid for.

That’s a potential total of 2,305 applications.

ICANN has $350 million in application fees in the bank as a result.

How many of the unpaid bids convert to full applications will be key in deciding how many evaluation batches the first gTLD round will have.

Closer to 2,091, and it’s likely to be four batches. Closer to 2,305, and we may see a fifth batch.

With Initial Evaluation expected to take five months per batch, with a possible 11 months after that for the final Extended Evaluations and string contention resolution, it could be June 2015 before the first new gTLD round is completely processed.

It remains to be seen how many unique strings have been applied for, and how many applications will be successful, but with ICANN only planning to delegate 200 to 300 new gTLDs per year, the first round is likely going to last a loooong time.

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Is .xxx really that crappy?

It’s not a huge secret that the new .xxx gTLD isn’t doing as well, five months after launch, as ICM Registry would have hoped, but how does it shape up against other top-level domains?

Domain Name News earlier this week published an analysis of the top one million most-trafficked web sites, according to Alexa rankings, and found that .xxx had just 61 entries.

Per DNN reporter Mike Cohen:

We would not have thought that only 61 domains in total would be ranking inside the top 1,000,000 most visited sites in the world. That number was suppose to be exponentially higher by all accounts even a few month’s in, which we now are well into 2012, however reality says otherwise.

I’m not sure what “all accounts” DNN is referring to — possibly ICM’s marketing hype — but I thought the analysis was interesting so I thought I’d try to replicate it.

This morning I parsed today’s Alexa top million sites list and came up with the following (sortable) table.

TLDDomainsMonths ActiveDomains/Months
.info17779124143.38
.co13622946.96
.me21365638.14
.biz387812132.05
.mobi413725.74
.xxx58124.83
.cat282713.97
.asia212543.93
.pro305953.21
.name3651222.99
.travel178742.41
.jobs47660.71
.coop641210.53
.aero611190.51
.tel11380.29
.museum81190.07

These are quick and dirty numbers, based on Alexa data, and my code might be wonky, so please don’t place too much faith in them.

I only looked at the “new” gTLDs introduced since 2001, as well as two mass-market ccTLDs (.co and .me) introduced over the same period.

The .co numbers do not include third-level domains under .com.co and the ccTLD’s other legacy extensions.

The “Months Active” column is the number of months since the TLD was delegated into the DNS root, measured by the date of the first registry report it filed with ICANN or the IANA (re)delegation date, not the date of general availability.

The fourth column is the number of domains divided by the number of months. It’s a fairly arbitrary measure, presented merely to give you an idea of the “success” of the TLD over time.

You could possibly, loosely, think of it as “how many domains a TLD can expect to get into the Alexa 1 Million per month”.

By that measure, .xxx isn’t doing too badly.

It’s even beating .jobs and .tel in absolute terms.

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TAS bug hit over 100 new gTLD applicants

It just keeps getting worse.

ICANN’s TLD Application System security bug could have revealed file names belonging to 105 new gTLD applicants to 50 other applicants on 451 occasions, according to the organization.

With 1,268 applicants in the system, those numbers certainly fit with the “a minority of applicants” description previously given, but it still shows that the bug was widespread.

The supplied numbers are “approximate”, but ICANN said it is “continuing to review system logs and packet-level traffic to confirm how many viewings actually did occur.”

The latest news means, for example, that 50 new gTLD applicants may have had the ability to see information belonging to other applicants on average nine times each.

While the new data may not strongly suggest that the bug was deliberately exploited by any applicant(s), it’s not inconsistent with that scenario.

It could mean that one applicant saw the details of 56 others (suggesting exploitation), but it could also mean that 50 applicants saw about two third-party file names each (suggesting accidental viewing).

Without further information, it’s impossible to know.

ICANN has not revealed, and is unlikely to reveal in the short term, whether any applicant was able to view the metadata of another applicant for the same gTLD.

The organization has however started to notify affected applicants whether they were affected as victim or beneficiary, according to the latest update from chief operating officer Akram Atallah.

Atallah also revealed that TAS had 95,000 file attachments in the system when it was taken down April 12.

At an average of 75 files per TAS account, this would support the idea that, on average, each TAS account was being used to file more than one application.

ICANN still plans to wrap up the notification process before next Tuesday, May 8, but there’s no word yet on when TAS will reopen for the final five days of the application window.

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Sex.com relaunches as Pinterest for porn

The world’s most valuable domain name has gone all Web 2.0.

Sex.com, which sold for $13 million in 2010, officially relaunched today as the “Pinterest for Sex”, a social networking site for sharing porn.

I must confess I had no clue what “Pinterest” was until ten minutes ago. According to Wikipedia, it’s one of the world’s biggest social networking web sites, bigger than LinkedIn

Perhaps my ignorance can be excused. According to Sex.com’s press release, I’m not the demographic:

Analytics have indicated that women make up over 97% of accounts created on Pinterest. Because of its specific audience, most pictures are of weddings, decorations, recipes and fashion, which seem to be of very little interest to men.

Sex.com is about sharing images of porn, therefore. Man stuff.

I believe this will be the first time the domain name sex.com has been properly “developed” in this way.

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ICANN budgets for 2,000 new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, May 2, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN could net $150 million from a 2,000-application new gTLD round.

That’s according to a proposed budget published for comment last night, which for the first time contemplates more than 500 new generic top-level domain applications.

The budget also contains budgets for 500-application and 1,000-application rounds.

But with ICANN revealing this week that it has 1,268 registered users of its TLD Application System, 2,000 applications is beginning to look extremely plausible.

ICANN would receive $368 million in fees from a 2,000-app round, according to the budget, of which an estimated $33 million would be returned in refunds when applicants withdraw.

But the operating cost of the program would only come in at $156 million – slightly cheaper on a per-application basis than a 500-app round due to volume discounts from its contractors.

What happens to the rest of the money?

About $30 million is returned to the ICANN contingency fund to recoup program development costs. A $31 million surplus could be considered “profit” – it’s budgeted as an increase in net assets.

But the majority – $120 million – is budgeted to the amorphous “risk costs” line item.

The risk fund – sometimes flippantly referred to as the legal war chest – was budgeted to cover unanticipated costs such as delays and litigation.

ICANN evidently does not anticipate any economies of scale here. The $120 million in the budget is a simple multiple of the $30 million it said it needed to cover risk in a 500-application round.

It’s quite possible that ICANN won’t even need to dip into the risk fund, or that it might only need to withdraw a small amount, which would leave it sitting on an embarrassingly large wedge of cash.

The organization has yet to decide how its surplus would be deployed, but it’s going to be kept in a separate bank account and accounted for separately.

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