Domain investors are loudly complaining about DomainTools’ plan to double its prices and slash query limits.
Some are even calling for a boycott.
Effective June 25, all the existing non-enterprise membership tiers are being folded into a new “Personal” account, which costs $99 a month or $995 a year, DomainTools said.
Previously, customers on a “Professional” account paid $49.95 a month. Some were paying as little as $12 under older, discontinued Gold, Silver and Bronze plans.
If the price hike weren’t significant enough, the company is also reducing the number of queries customers can make.
Whois History reports have been slashed from 100 domains to 25, for example, as have Hosting History reports. The Brand Monitor tool has been reduced from 10 monitored strings to 3.
DomainTools offers a broad range of services in its standard bundle, and the cuts are pretty much across the board.
DomainTools said in an email to bloggers this week that a 30% discount will be offered on the first payment under the new plan for existing customers, adding:
The Personal Membership package adds four products that have never been offered before to individual members. Bulk Parsed Whois and Reverse Whois Research Mode have previously only been available to Enterprise members. In addition, we are including our newest product, Reverse IP Whois, which works like our Reverse Whois for domain Whois, but across IP Whois records. And finally, Personal Membership also includes 5 Domain Reports per month.
The company says that it is focusing more now on its enterprise security customers, where one imagines margins are higher than its mass-market domainer-oriented services.
Domainers, as you might expect, are not happy. Message boards and domainer blogs are filled with negative commentary.
Some are predicting customers will flock to rivals DomainIQ and Whoisology.
Disclosure: myself and several other domain industry bloggers are on complimentary plans and will not be affected by these changes. In some months, the new Personal plan would have been adequate for my needs; in others, not so much.
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.
ICANN has sent breach notices to five domain name registrars, including two owned by Epik and DomainTools, for failing to cooperate with a Whois accuracy audit.
InTrust Domains, Planet Online, Server Plan, Infocom Network and DomainAllies.com did not respond to ICANN’s 2011 Whois Data Reminder Policy audit, according to ICANN.
The WDRP is the longstanding policy that requires all ICANN-accredited registrars to remind their customers to keep their Whois records up to date once a year.
The annual WDRP audit asks registrars to state how many reminders they sent out and how many Whois records were updated as a result, among other things.
The non-compliant registrars, with the exception of Server Plan, are also evidently past due paying their ICANN accreditation fees, according to the breach notices.
All five registrars have been given 15 days to rectify the problems or risk losing their accreditations.
Given that the audit is, I believe, a simple web-based form, I don’t think anyone is going to go out of business as a result of these breaches.
It’s interesting to dig a little bit into who owns these registrars.
DomainAllies.com belongs to DomainTools parent Thought Convergence.
Planet Online, meanwhile, is one of those odd registrars that hides its own contact information behind a Whois privacy service (though its web site does carry a physical address).
The need for the domain name industry to enforce accurate Whois is often cited by law enforcement and intellectual property interests as a consumer protection measure.
But most regular internet users haven’t got a clue that Whois even exists, let alone what data it contains or how to use it.
A study (pdf) carried out for ICANN’s Whois Review Team last year found that only 24% of consumers know what Whois is.
This stream of tweets I chanced across this afternoon, from what appears to be a first-time domain registrant, is probably more representative of consumer attitudes to Whois.
UPDATE (April 27): I’ve removed the tweets per the request of the Twitter user in question.
Somebody has just paid out $2,500 for the domain name domaintools.co, according to Sedo.
I guess not even the most savvy domain name industry companies are immune to typosquatting.
Given that the price is just below what you might expect to pay for a cheap UDRP complaint, but more than the domain is probably worth alone, I assume the buyer is DomainTools itself.
According to DomainTools (the historical Whois service, not the company), domaintools.co has been in the hands of a Chinese registrant since .co went live in July 2010.
The domain, which is parked, is currently in escrow.