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Renewals at 55% as first new gTLD junk drop begins

Kevin Murphy, February 18, 2015, Domain Registries

The first new gTLD to go live is seeing its first-year renewals at 55% one year after hitting general availability.

dotShabaka Registry’s شبكة. (or “.shabaka”, the Arabic for “.web”) has also seen its zone file shrink by about 27% over the last two weeks.

The zone peaked at 2,069 domains on February 1, 2015, but today stands at 1,521. Exactly one year ago, it was at 1,561 names.

The zone is smaller today than it was just two weeks after GA began, in other words.

“We can confirm we’re seeing renewal rates for names due in February at around 55%,” Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, which runs .shabaka’s back-end, told DI in a statement.

The registry added 1,608 domains in February 2014, 1,400 of those in the first half of the month.

The 55% is the number of domains that were renewed before their February expiry date. The full number for February will not be known until the grace period ends in mid-April.

“We have a handful of cancel renews and all other expired domains are in the auto-renew period,” he said. “It’s too early to examine the numbers for renews post-expiry date, but we expect this will increase the overall tally.”

“Given the market conditions we face in the region, the results align with our forecasts and we expect the numbers to improve for renewals due in the coming weeks and months,” he said.

In gTLDs, domains can enter a Auto Renew Grace Period for up to 45 days after expiration, during which they can still be renewed by their registrant and may or may not appear in the zone file.

It wouldn’t be fair on other new gTLD registries to read to much into these numbers, assuming they do not improve, as شبكة. is a bit of an unusual case.

It’s seen low registration volume, despite the apparently attractive string, largely because it’s restricted to Arabic script at the second level and the Arabic-speaking market is in its infancy.

When شبكة. launched there were no registrars offering an end-to-end Arabic shopping cart, Kinderis said. He added:

The most significant problem still remains demand and consumer awareness…

In regards to demand, the lack of awareness is a direct result of little to no marketing in the region. Apart from our own efforts, there has been little marketing or education programs deployed to increase awareness of new Top-Level Domains and Arabic script domain names.

We have even limited our marketing efforts because we identified early that market readiness is inadequate. Any large investment in marketing from dotShabaka Registry at the moment would be premature and wasteful until supply, demand and universal acceptance issues have been addressed.

He called on ICANN and its recently created Middle East Working Group to focus on ways to increase awareness and demand for domain names in the region. To date, it’s focused too much registrars and technical issues, he said.

شبكة. has its own set of issues and is probably not the best test case for new gTLDs in general.

That’s going to come soon. Donuts’ first batch of gTLDs — .guru, .bike, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles, .ventures and .clothing — had their base-price GA anniversary on February 4, and it appears that domains have already started to drop.

There’s little indication of anything amiss in the .guru zone file so far but the other six are down slightly — by maybe 100 or so names apiece, or less than 1% each — over the last two weeks.

Donuts executives have said they expect first-year renewals to be strong, but we’ve got a few weeks left before anyone will be in a position to know for sure.

Google registers its first new gTLD domain

Kevin Murphy, January 4, 2014, Domain Registries

Google took part in dotShabaka Registry’s Sunrise period, according to today’s zone files.

The company registered جوجل.شبكة, in the .شبكة (Arabic “.web”) TLD, via MarkMonitor at some point prior to December 30.

“جوجل” seems to be the Arabic transliteration of “Google”.

The domain is not resolving, but Whois says it belongs to Google and it’s configured to use Google name servers.

It’s only the fifth confirmed Sunrise registration in the .شبكة space — the only new gTLD to so far conclude a Sunrise period.

Rolex registered its trademark and Richemont International registered three of its luxury goods brands. So far, Rolex is the only confirmed new gTLD registrant that is not also an applicant.

None of the registrants to date are from the Arabic-speaking regions.

These may all be defensive registrations, of course, and may never resolve to anything useful.

These are the first four new gTLD domain names

Kevin Murphy, December 31, 2013, Domain Registries

Two luxury goods companies have the honor of being the first to register domain names in a new gTLD.

Today, the first four domain names registered to actual registrants popped up in the zone file for dotShabaka Registry’s Arabic “.web” — شبكة.

شبكة. exited its mandatory Sunrise period on Sunday; the four new names appear to be the first ones to get name servers after their Sunrise applications were approved.

The two registrants, according to Whois records, are Richemont International and Rolex.

Richemont is itself a new gTLD applicant. The company has taken a strong interest in the program, with head of digital IP Richard Graham even moderating a new gTLDs conference in March.

The four names (with my best guesses at a translation) are:

None appear to be resolving on the web yet, not even to placeholder pages, at least from where I’m sitting.

Because they’re Sunrise names, it’s possible that all four are defensive registrations that may never lead anywhere meaningful.

Richemont used Com Laude as its registrar while Rolex used Key-Systems.

The Sunrise was limited to Arabic-script trademarks.

dotShabaka said yesterday that it had “very few” Sunrise applications. Now we know that number was at least four.

First new gTLD Sunrise ends with “very few” registrations

Kevin Murphy, December 30, 2013, Domain Registries

The first new gTLD Sunrise period was not a success, according to dotShabaka Registry.

The 60-day Sunrise for شبكة. (.web in Arabic) ended yesterday with “very few” registrations, the company told us today, due largely to poor promotion of the Trademark Clearinhouse in Arabic-speaking regions.

The gTLD is restricted to Arabic strings, and therefore Sunrise was restricted to Arabic trademarks.

dotShabaka said in a statement:

We always knew – with the convoluted process for registration and lack of information out to the MENA [Middle-East/ North Africa] region on the Trademark Clearinghouse – that this was going to be a quiet time for us. We have seen very few applications through the Sunrise period.

We know that the managers of the TMCH and ICANN are working hard to promote the TMCH. However, as a pioneer we have unfortunately not enjoyed the fruits of this labour. At the same time it should be noted that we have been buoyed by the level of interest from trademark holders and businesses in the region and expect this interest to translate into registrations once we move into Landrush and are free of the TMCH sunrise eligibility requirements.

The company did not provide exact numbers, but my guess is that we might be looking at single figures here.

According to today’s شبكة. zone file, there are no active third-party domains in the شبكة. namespace. Zero. None. The only live sites are “nic.” and its Arabic equivalent, which both belong to the registry.

That may quickly change, of course, as registrations don’t always immediately translate into zone file entries.

First new gTLDs to go live “in the next few hours”

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2013, Domain Registries

The first four new gTLDs are expected to go live in the next few hours.

That’s according to the registries themselves, and reports out of the Internet Governance Forum in Bali, where ICANN division president Akram Atallah was speaking on a panel earlier today.

The gTLDs are: .сайт (Russian “.site”) and .онлайн (Russian “.online”) from CORE Association, شبكة. (Arabic “.web”) from dotShabaka Registry and .游戏 (Chinese “.games”) from Donuts.

By “go live” I mean of course that the ASCII versions of these strings (for example, .xn--ngbc5azd for شبكة.) will be entered into the DNS root.

It may take a short while for the registries to activate second-level domains (such as nic.) under their new TLDs, and nothing will actually go on sale for weeks.

They’re all of course internationalized domain names, given ICANN’s decision almost a year ago to prioritize IDNs at all stages of the evaluation and delegation process.

All four received their block-lists of “collision risk” second-level domains on Friday and elected to implement the blocks to get to delegation faster.

The three registries signed their contracts on stage at the ICANN meeting in Durban July 15.

This is a pretty big day for ICANN and its community. After many years and countless arguments and delays, new gTLDs are actually about to go live!

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