Four new gTLD applications have been withdrawn so far this week, including the first to come from .info operator Afilias.
Afilias has pulled its bid for .mail — the second applicant to do so — due to the number of competitors for the string.
A spokesperson said in an email:
The company felt there were simply too many groups in contention for this domain and we’d rather focus our energy supporting and helping to grow the .POST domain, for which we are the [technical services provider].
There are now five applicants competing for the string, including Google, Amazon and Donuts, but they’re all facing objections from the United States Postal Service and the Universal Postal Union, which runs .post.
Elsewhere this week, Directi has ended its bid for .movie, a contention set with seven other bidders.
The company declined to comment on the reasons for the withdrawal, so we probably can’t entirely rule out some kind of partnership with one or more other applicants.
Today we’ve also seen the withdrawal of applications for .ltd and .inc, both belonging to a Dutch company called C.V. TLDcare. I don’t know much about these guys, other than it used OpenRegistry as its technical partner and that .inc and .ltd were its only two applications.
Interesting fact: not a single “corporate identifier” application (.llp, .corp, .ltd, .inc, .llc) has passed Initial Evaluation yet, but seven applications have been withdrawn.
It’s a controversial category, with many US state attorneys general very unhappy about any of these strings being delegated without safeguards.
The latest four withdrawals bring the total to 63.
Directi appears to be the last man standing in the three-way tie-up for .online, following the latest new gTLD withdrawals.
Namecheap has dropped its .online application, closely following Tucows, which dropped its bid a couple of weeks ago.
The three companies announced a deal in March to see them cooperate to win the contested TLD, but at the time it wasn’t clear which applicants would pull out.
Directi’s bid (filed by DotOnline Inc under the Radix brand) remains. It has already passed Initial Evaluation, which may be part of the reason its application was chosen as the “winner”.
The gTLD is still contested, however. Directi is competing with Donuts, I-Registry and Dot Online LLC.
Separately today, a curious two-way dot-brand battle seems to have had its final twist, with Guardian Life Insurance’s withdrawal of its application for .guardianlife.
The insurance company and newspaper publisher Guardian News and Media had both applied for gTLDs containing the string “guardian”. There were originally five, but only two remain.
It now looks like Guardian News will get .theguardian, having previously conceded .guardian to its brand rival and dropping its bid for .guardianmedia.
It appears that there’s been more than a bit of strategic applying, and maybe some deal-making, here.
Neither remaining application is contested, and neither have objections. It’s likely that .guardian is captured by the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice against “closed generics”, however.
The recently launched .pw domain, managed by Directi, is doing particularly well in China, according to an early analysis from DomainTools.
The survey of data from name servers supporting 63,736 .pw domains found that well over half — 38,356 — were on Chinese IP addresses.
The Chinese registrar XinNet, which promotes low-cost .pw heavily on its home page, runs the second-largest number of name servers for the ccTLD’s registrants, DomainTools said.
According to the data, Directi’s own PrivacyProtect.org service is the third-largest name server host for .pw, followed by NameCheap and Sedo.
While Directi said from the outset that it expected to see growth from less-developed regions of the world, it has also come under fire recently for a massive spam outbreak from .pw addresses.
The ccTLD already has over 100,000 domains, according to the company.
Recently relaunched budget TLD .pw is being widely abused by spammers already, but registry manager Directi said it’s enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy.
Anti-spam software makers and users have over the last week reported a “massive” increase in email spam from .pw domain names.
Security giant Symantec reports that .pw jumped to #4 in its rankings of TLDs used in spammed URLs in the week ending April 26.
Anti-spam vendor Fort even recommended its customers block the entire TLD at their mail gateways, blogging:
Since we have yet to see a legitimate piece of mail for the .pw domain but have recently seen massive amounts of spam from this domain, we are recommending that you block mail form this domain as soon as practical.
Anti-spam mailing lists have been full of people complaining about .pw spam, according to spam expert John Levine.
Our own TLD Health Check ranks .pw at #19 in abusive domains (which tracks phishing and malware domains rather than spam) for May, having not ranked it at all before April.
But Sandeep Ramchandani, head of Directi’s .PW Registry unit, told DI that the company has deactivated 4,000 too 5,000 .pw domains for breaching its anti-abuse policy.
He said that a single registrar was responsible for the majority of the abusive names, and that the registrar in question has had its discount revoked, resulting in newly registered domains from it going down to “almost nothing”.
“If you remove that registrar, the percentage of abusive names to non-abusive names is not alarming at all,” Ramchandani said.
He said the company has a “zero tolerance” approach to spam. It’s been communicating with many of its critics to let them know it’s on the case.
He noted that it’s not surprising that people are seeing more bad traffic from .pw than good — spammers tend to start using their domains immediately, whereas legitimate registrants take a bit longer.
Directi, which reported 50,000 names registered in the first three weeks of general availability last week, is now up to 100,000 names.
Many of the names were registered via the same aforementioned registrar, so more are likely to be turned off, Ramchandani said.
.pw is the ccTLD for Palau, but Directi brands it as “Professional Web”. It’s going for the budget end of the market, selling domains for less than .com prices even if you exclude discounts.
Directi’s recently relaunched .pw top-level domain has racked up 50,000 domain name registrations after just three weeks of general availability, according to the company.
The number, which will put a smile on the faces of many new gTLD applicants, relates to GA only and does not include defensive registrations made during the ccTLD’s sunrise period, Directi confirmed to DI.
“Our goal was 100,000 names for the first year,” Directi CEO Bhavin Turakhia said in a press release. “The feeling of achieving 50% of the goal within the first three weeks is surreal.”
As previously reported, there were 4,000 .pw domains registered during the first half hour of GA.
Directi (running .pw as .PW Registry and/or Radix Registry) signed up 120 registrars to sell .pw names, which it brands as “Professional Web”.
It’s really the ccTLD for Palau, a small nation in the Pacific.
The registry is going for budget buyers, with registry fees and retail prices coming in a little lower than .com.