GMO Registry and Radix have won Chinese government approval for their respective new gTLDs .shop and .site.
It’s the second batch of foreign new gTLDs to get the nod from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, following .vip, .club and .xyz in early December.
They’re also the first two Asian registries from outside China to get the right to flog their domains in China — GMO is Japanese and Radix is UAE-based with Indian roots.
Their new Chinese government licenses mean Chinese registrars will now be able to allow their customers to actually use .shop and .site domains to host web sites.
The registries in turn have had to agree to enforce China’s rather arbitrary and Draconian censorship policies on their Chinese customers.
The approvals were announced by MIIT December 29.
.site currently has about 570,000 domains in its zone file, making it a top-10 new gTLD by volume, while .shop, which launched much more recently, has over 100,000.
The ability for Chinese customers to develop their domains is no doubt good for the long-term health of TLDs, but it’s not necessarily a harbinger of shorter-term growth in a market where domains are often treated little more than meaningless baseball cards to be traded rather than commodities with intrinsic value.
The new .shop gTLD is likely to see growth over the coming week or so, as registrars begin to offer them for free.
Two retail registrars in the Key-Systems stable — Moniker and domaindiscount24 — said today they will offer a free .shop to each of their customers until December 23.
The offer is limited to one domain per account, so we’re unlikely to see the same level of growth, speculation and abuse we’ve seen in other TLDs that have offered free registrations.
Other popular registrars are currently selling first-year .shop names for $8 to $10, a discount on the usual retail price of between $25 and $30.
Interestingly and perhaps surprisingly, Key-Systems’ native Germany already has the most .shop registrations to date, with over a quarter of the 100,000 or so names registered so far to registrants in that country.
You have to go to number four in its geographic breakdown league to even get to the first Anglophone nation (the US).
GMO Registry has recorded one of the most successful new gTLD launch days to date, selling over 45,000 .shop domain names in the first hours.
The company said it sold 45,427 .shop names in the first two hours after general availability started yesterday afternoon at about 1600 UTC.
The total at that point was 51,755, including about 5,000 that were registered during the Early Access Period, during which names carried higher prices.
The latest .shop zone file contains 46,419 domains.
The registry had sold 616 premium-priced names already, GMO said.
The volume is quite impressive given the retail price tags — .shop is not priced for budget Chinese domainers, it’s selling for $20 to $30 at the major Western registrars.
That’s double, triple or even 10 times as much as Minds + Machines’ self-consciously ‘non-freenium’ .vip domains were selling for when it racked up a six-figure volume during its first day of GA earlier this year.
West.cn, the leading Chinese new gTLD registrar, priced .vip at $3 but is selling .shop at $25.
GMO paid a then record-setting $41.5 million for the rights to .shop at an ICANN auction back in January.
If you’ve spent over $40 million on a gTLD, you need to make your money back somehow, right?
It’s emerged that GMO Registry, which paid ICANN a record $41.5 million for .shop back in January, plans to charge $1,000 renewal fees, wholesale, on domains registered during its upcoming sunrise period.
Trademark owners will seemingly have to pay over the odds for domains matching their trademarks, while regular registrants will have a much more manageable annual fee of $24.
The prices were disclosed in a blog post from the registrar OpenProvider last week, in which the company urged GMO to lower its prices.
Sunrise is due to start June 30, running for 60 days, so there’s still a chance prices could change before then.
It’s not the first registry to charge more for sunrise renewals than regular renewals.
Any company that bought a .sucks domain during sunrise was lumbered with a recurring $2,499 registry fee.
.green also had a $50 annual sunrise renewal premium before Afilias took over the gTLD in April.
Others have charged higher non-recurring sunrise fees. With .cars, the sunrise fee was $3,000, which was $1,000 more than the regular GA price.
Commercial Connect’s lawsuit against ICANN appears to be on its way out, as ICANN claims the .shop applicant has “abandoned” the case.
The company sued ICANN in January in an attempt to prevent .shop gTLD being sold off via an ICANN last-resort auction.
It failed, and the auction raised a $41 million winning bid from GMO Registry.
It transpired that the company didn’t bother telling its lawyer that it had signed an agreement not to sue when it applied for .shop, and the lawyer jumped ship less than two weeks after the complaint was filed.
The lawyer told the court the waiver had been “buried among thousands and thousands of documents on a USB drive” and that he hadn’t noticed it before filing the suit.
In a court filing (pdf) yesterday, ICANN said that Commercial Connect had failed to secure a new lawyer, had failed to formally serve ICANN with the complaint, and had missed its April 25 deadline to argue against ICANN’s motion to dismiss the case.
For these reasons, it said, the case should be chucked.
Commercial Connect applied for .shop in 2000 and again in 2012 and has used every appeals mechanism and legal tool at its disposal in order to disrupt competing bids.
GMO’s .shop is currently in pre-delegation testing.