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OVH to give away 50,000 new gTLD names for free

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2014, Domain Registries

France-based registrar OVH is to make up to 50,000 domain names in its new gTLD .ovh available for free.

According to its web site and a bulletin send to customers today, the regular price of £2.69 ($4.35) will be waived for the first year and renewal pricing will be discounted.

The first 20,000 names registered will renew at £1.01 ($1.63), the remaining 30,000 names will renew at £2.03 ($3.29). There will be a limit of five domains per customer.

While “free” is not an unusual business model in the new gTLD round, .ovh is noteworthy for several other reasons.

It’s the first “dot-brand” new gTLD to accept registrations from third parties, for starters.

It’s also the only live dot-brand belonging to an accredited domain name registrar.

The restrictions on the gTLD also raise eyebrows — in order to register a name in .ovh, you need an OVH customer number.

So while the .ovh names should in theory be available via third-party registrars, such registrars would have to capture the OVH customer number of their own customers — or encourage their own customers to become OVH customers — in order to process the registration.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no mention of any approved third-party registrars on the official .ovh web site.

General availability begins at 1000 UTC Wednesday October 2.

Thanks to Andrew Bennett for the tip.

Safeway pulls all four new gTLD apps

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2014, Domain Registries

Retail giant Safeway has removed itself from the new gTLD program entirely, last week withdrawing all four of its applications.

The $139-billion-a-year company had applied for the dot-brands .safeway, .vons, .justforu and the generic .grocery, but all four bids are now showing as withdrawn.

Now that Safeway has withdrawn, the only remaining applicant for .grocery is rival retailer Wal-Mart.

.grocery had been applied for as a “closed generic”, in which Safeway would be the only eligible registrant.

The ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee had advised against closed generics on consumer protection grounds.

When ICANN pressed applicants for such strings to clarify whether they were in fact “closed generics”, Safeway denied (pdf) that .grocery was.

Wal-Mart, on the other hand, said that its .grocery would be restricted to Wal-Mart and its affiliates.

First company abandons .com for new dot-brand gTLD

Kevin Murphy, September 12, 2014, Domain Registries

Wow. Somebody actually did it.

CITIC, China’s biggest conglomerate, has started redirecting its established .com domain to its new dot-brand gTLD, .citic.

Specifically, it’s redirecting citic.com (go on, click it!) to limited.citic.

Almost everyone reading this post will agree that as a memorable, attractive domain it’s a step backwards.

But CITIC does seem to be the first dot-brand to make the leap from .com to dot-brand with both feet, and it seems to have done so with little to no penalty to its Google ranking (at least as far as searches for its company name go).

A Google search for “citic” here returns limited.citic as the third result, behind Wikipedia and one of CITIC’s sister companies.

The original citic.com doesn’t appear in the top results.

The company also has ranking for group.citic, one of the five second-level names active in the .citic zone file right now.

It’s not the first dot-brand to launch a web site at its new gTLD — destination.monash and annualreport.axa spring to mind — but it does seem to be the first to throw away its .com completely.

CITIC does not appear to have activated its matching Chinese-script gTLD, .中信, in the same way, however. Only nic.中信 appears in search results for sites under that TLD.

Thanks to Jothan Frakes of NamesCon for the tip.

Infosys withdraws dot-brand bids

Kevin Murphy, August 15, 2014, Domain Registries

Indian consulting giant Infosys has dropped its bids for two dot-brand new gTLDs.

It withdrew its applications for .infosys and .infy this week, leaving it with no remaining applications.

Both bids were straightforward dot-brands applications with no objections or contention. Both had passed Initial Evaluation and were just awaiting contract signing.

Infosys, which provides business and IT consulting services and outsourcing, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and had revenue of $8.4 billion in its last reported year.

Momentum cancels dot-brand conference

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2014, Domain Services

Momentum Events has cancelled its planned new gTLD conference, which was due to take place in Amsterdam next month.

The Digital Strategy & DotOps Congress was designed primarily for potential dot-brand gTLD applicants — with free tickets on offer for eligible companies — but Momentum said there was not enough demand.

A Momentum rep tells me it was looking like fewer than 100 people were going to attend.

“[M]arket response to this event thus far has demonstrated that the use of TLDs by brands is still a developing area and at this time we are just a bit too ahead of the curve,” the company said in an email to participants. “As such and in consideration of your time, we decided to proceed with cancelling this event.”

The conference was to be held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands from September 18 to 19.

Momentum is tentatively thinking about rescheduling the show for the first quarter next year.

It’s not the first new gTLD conference to be cancelled due to the slow uptake of new gTLDs. The third .nxt conference was abandoned twice in 2012 due to lack of demand and delays in the ICANN process.

Unlike the .nxt situation, where some attendees said they did not get refunded for their event passes, Momentum tells me people who had already paid for tickets can be refunded.

They’ll also be offered access to other Momentum conferences — either the rescheduled spring conference or a more imminent brand-oriented show — as an alternative.