Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Blacknight dumps .ie from free domain program, replaces it with .co

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2012, Domain Registrars

Blacknight Solutions has dropped its local ccTLD, .ie, from the free domain name program it offers in partnership with Google to Irish small businesses.

It’s being replaced with .co, the repurposed Colombian ccTLD, which has been getting an indecent amount of traction in regional projects targeting small business recently.

“Unfortunately, while we may be the market leader for .IE, we feel that the restrictions on the domain impose too many restraints to benefit program participants,” Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon said.

Supporting the highly restrictive ccTLD was imposing too many costs and headaches, Neylon said. The company will continue to sell the domains, just not through the program.

Blacknight, Google and the Irish postal service have been offering companies a free year domain registration and hosting under the banner of Getting Business Online for over a year.

In May, Blacknight reported that in the first year only about 21% of companies participating in the program chose .ie.

The .co domain is of course unrestricted.

It’s another regional win for .CO Internet, which markets .co as the TLD of choice for startups.

Just last week .CO Internet announced that Startup Britain, a private-sector entrepreneurial campaign backed by the UK government, had switched from a .org to a .co.

Blacknight now .co accredited

Irish registrar Blacknight Solutions has been approved as a .co registrar, according to the company.

It’s one of the ongoing second wave of .co registrars following the initial 10 used by .CO Internet at launch.

Judging by .CO’s web site, Blacknight will be the 18th registrar to get approval to sell directly (13th if you don’t count the jointly owned registrars on the list), as well as the smallest.

Previously, the company was like so many others a reseller of My.co, the Colombian channel-oriented registrar.

O.co loses 61% of its traffic to O.com

Overstock.com’s decision to rebrand itself O.co had a disastrous effect on the internet retailer’s traffic, according to its CEO.

Patrick Byrne told financial analysts yesterday that “O.co was my bad call” and that “about eight out of 13 people who were trying to visit us through O.co, eight were typing O.com”

It’s not clear what the source of the data is, or why the measurement given was out of 13, but it works out to 61%.

Byrne noted that people may have typed o.co instead after figuring out that o.com doesn’t work – it’s currently reserved, alongside most other single-letter .com domains, by Verisign.

His comments came as Overstock reported 2011 revenue down 3% to $1.05 billion and fourth-quarter revenue down 10% to $314 million.

Byrne said on a conference call with analysts:

There were some bad decisions for which I take responsibility in marketing O.co. O.co was odd in that it worked on one level. It did get out there into people’s heads, but what we discovered, and we turned it up slowly and we actually had nice adoption from the beginning of last year, gradually people shifting to O.co and then, but we got into the Christmas season and it worked terribly for people who were not familiar with us. There was a tremendous amount of traffic diverting to O.com and I think we’ve figured out that it was about eight out of 13 people who were trying to visit us through O.co, eight were typing O.com. Now some of them may have come, trying anyway.

The company bought o.co from registry .CO Internet for $350,000 in July 2010, during the .co relaunch. It later said it would rebrand the company on its new domain.

It even bought the naming rights to the Oakland Coliseum, which is now known as the O.co Coliseum.

Until quite recently, Overstock was an important .CO Internet reference customer. Now, I’m guessing, not so much.

Overstock has “slowed” its rebranding, reverting to referring to o.co as a “shortcut” rather than its primary address, which remains overstock.com.

The company bought o.info last year and this week launched the site as an information portal for its products. It also operates o.biz as a business-to-business site.

Startup America obtains s.co and offers free .co domains to entrepreneurs

Kevin Murphy, February 2, 2012, Domain Registries

Startup America, an initiative to encourage entrepreneurship in the US, has relocated to S.co and will offer a free one-year .co domain registration to registered members.

For .CO Internet, the .co registry, this is a pretty sweet marketing coup.

The Startup America Partnership is a private initiative created a year ago in response to White House calls for grassroots economic stimulus.

It’s chaired by former AOL chief Steve Case, and has over a billion dollars in support commitments from tech heavyweights such as IBM, Intel and HP.

Signing up to the program grants entrepreneurs resources such as discounted accounting software and access to workshops. Now, they’ll also get a free .co domain for a year, if they want one.

As part of the deal, Startup America, which was located at startupamericapartnership.org, can now be found at s.co.

While .CO has been commanding prices for single-letter .co domains of, anecdotally, over a million dollars, I’d be surprised if any significant money has changed hands here.

For a Colombian TLD to become part of a flag-waving American initiative such as this, giving it access to its core target customer base… well, let’s just say that even if it gave away s.co for free, which I think it probably did, it would still be a very smart deal from .CO’s end.

.me beating .co in start-ups?

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2012, Domain Registries

The .co top-level domain may have more registrations, but more tech start-ups are opting for .me domain names, according to an informal study.

Doctoral student Thomas Park compiled a list of 1,000 start-ups added to TechCrunch’s CrunchBase database last year and found that entrepreneurs chose .co 1% of the time, versus 1.7% for .me.

As caveats, the difference between the two TLDs only works out to seven companies and .me, which launched in 2008, does of course have a two-year head start over .co.

I’m also guessing that CrunchBase has an English-language bias, which could skew the results. While .co has meaning in more countries it lacks the call-to-action punch of .me in English.

Nevertheless, I think the results are interesting because .CO Internet heavily targets start-ups in its marketing and currently has twice as many domains under management (over 1.1 million) as doMEn, the Afilias/Go Daddy joint-venture .me registry.

Park’s results show that .me had a 0.50% share in 2010 and a 0.80% share in 2009 while .co managed to get one company (0.10%) on the list during the half of 2010 it was live.

The survey found that .com is the runaway first choice for entrepreneurs, with about 85% of the start-up market, but you knew that already.

Go Daddy to advertise .co at the Super Bowl

Kevin Murphy, December 5, 2011, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy plans to advertise .co domain names during the Super Bowl broadcast for the second year in a row.

The company has bought two 30-second slots during the show, one of which will plug .co and will feature celebrity spokesmodels Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels.

Scripts for both ads have been approved by NBC censors already, Go Daddy said.

It will be the eighth consecutive year the company has advertised during the inexplicably popular sporting event, which had a record-breaking 111 million US viewers this February.

The 2011 ad revealed Joan Rivers, her head spliced onto the body of a much younger glamor model, as the .co Go Daddy Girl.

I estimated at the time that .CO Internet took roughly 30,000 to 50,000 extra registrations due to the Super Bowl commercial.

Open .co landrush re-auctions — the full list

Kevin Murphy, October 4, 2011, Domain Sales

.CO Internet is putting 100 .co domain names that failed to auction during its landrush last year up for “re-auction”, and it looks like there are a few possible gems on the list.

The company said last week that the 100 names are the last of the domains that went to auction but failed to change hands due to a lack of bidders or non-payment by the winner.

While the first auctions were restricted to only those who had paid the landrush fee, this time around anybody can participate. Pool.com will again handle the auction.

There are some potentially nice names, such as accidentlawyers.co, injurylawyers.co, seoul.co, comicbooks.co and businessintelligence.co.

Click here for the full list of names.

On its birthday, .co has a 66% renewal rate

Kevin Murphy, August 16, 2011, Domain Registries

Two thirds of .co domain names due to expire in July were renewed, according to the registry.

In its monthly newsletter, .CO Internet said that its renewal rate was 66%.

A company spokesperson confirmed that this figure is for the entire month, which includes the July 20 one-year anniversary of the repurposed ccTLD going into general availability.

What this essentially means is that about one in three .co domain names registered for a year during the initial landrush a year ago were allowed to expire last month.

According to HosterStats, which categorizes over half a million .co domains according to how they’re being used, about 73,000 .co domains – roughly 13% of the total – are now classified as expired.

.CO Internet says it has over one million registered domains.

If the company was publicly traded, investors and analysts would be looking to the renewal rate as an indication of the financial health of the company.

VeriSign typically reports a .com/.net renewal percentage in the low-to-mid 70s. If .co has a similar ratio, that’s not necessarily positive.

Could .om become the next typo TLD?

Will Oman’s .om domain follow in the footsteps of .co? Or .cm? Or neither?

The country-code top-level domain is set to be transferred to a new manager following an ICANN vote this coming Thursday.

The redelegation is one item on a unusually light agenda for the board’s July 28 telephone meeting. It’s on the consent agenda, so it will likely be rubber-stamped without discussion.

The domain is currently assigned to Oman Telecommunications Company, but the new owner is expected to be the national Telecommunications Regulatory Authority or an affiliated entity.

The Omani TRA was given authority over the nation’s domain names by Royal Decree in 2002.

It has already successfully had the Arabic-script ccTLD .عمان approved by ICANN for use as an internationalized domain name, but the IDN has not yet been delegated.

AusRegistry International this March won a $1.3 million contract with the TRA to provide software and services for the .om and .عمان registries.

At the time, the TRA said it planned to market both Latin and Arabic extensions to increase the number of domain registrations.

The .om ccTLD is of course a .com typo, like .co and .cm, but squatting is not currently possible due to its strict registration policies.

Only Omani entities may register .om domains today, and only third-level domains (such as example.com.om and example.net.om) may be registered. Domains may not be resold.

I have no particular reason to believe this situation will change under new stewardship, but it will certainly be worth keeping an eye on the TLD for possible policy changes.

When Cameroon’s .cm opened up, it implemented a widely vilified blanket wildcard in an attempt to profit from .com typos.

Colombia’s .co of course took the responsible route, disowning wildcards and embracing strong anti-squatting measures, even if its mere existence was still a headache for some trademark owners.

If 41% of .co is parked, how many domains will expire today?

Today is the one-year anniversary of the .co top-level domain entering general availability.

As you may recall, .co got off to a flying start, selling about 100,000 names in its first half hour and over 200,000 registrations during its first day.

The question is: how many of those domains will start expiring today and drop over the next few months?

A recent HosterStats survey, from June 1, apparently found that approximately 41% of the 593,622 .co domains it was able to detect were presumed parked.

The survey was not exhaustive, as .CO Internet reports over one million registered .co domains today, and HosterStats acknowledged that its breakdown may differ from the actual numbers.

Still, the data suggests that .co is likely just as heavily speculated as other TLDs, and that some short-term speculators will let their domains expire over the coming days and weeks.

HosterStats’ John McCormac wrote in a comment on an earlier DI post:

What typically happens just after a Landrush anniversary is that the percentage of PPC in a new TLD falls as many speculative domains that could not be flipped or monetised are dropped. The developed websites percentage increases but getting development started in a new TLD is a slow process and takes a few years.

Of course, .CO Internet is all about encouraging development. It has pumped millions into marketing the TLD as somewhere for entrepreneurs to get a good name for their sites.

But with a substantial base of speculative registrations, it seems inevitable that .CO is going to take a hit today, as the first-wave land-grab begins to die out.

I’m not sure whether this will massively impact the number of domains .CO Internet reports, however.

My estimate is that .co currently stands at over 1.1 million domains. It grew from around 600,000 in late December to one million in May, according to registry publicity.

Even if it starts to lose tens of thousands of speculative domains this week, I don’t think .CO will have to stop saying it has more than a million registrations any time soon.

The company does not publish its exact numbers. Chief executive Juan Calle has stated that he thinks registration volume is a poor metric for judging the “success” of a TLD.

UPDATE: The original version of this article stupidly used the word “drop” quite a lot, when “expire” was the more correct word.