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Second last-resort gTLD auction raises $14.3m

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

ICANN has raised $14.3 million auctioning off three new gTLDs — .buy, .tech and .vip.

It was the second batch of “last resort” auctions, managed by ICANN and Power Auctions, in which the winning bids are placed in a special ICANN fund.

Notably, while Google participated in all three auctions, it failed to win any, setting a reassuring precedent for any smaller applicants that are set to face the deep-pocketed giant in future auctions.

.tech was the biggest-seller, fetching $6,760,000 after nine rounds of bidding.

The winner was Dot Tech LLC, which beat Google, Minds + Machines, Donuts, NU DOT CO, and Uniregistry.

.buy went to Amazon for $4,588,888, beating Google, Donuts and Famous Four Media. The bidding lasted seven rounds.

Finally, .vip sold to Minds + Machines for $3,000,888 after Google, Donuts, I-Registry and VIP Registry dropped out.

The prices are in the same ball-park as we’ve inferred from previous, private auctions managed by Applicant Auction (a company affiliated with Power Auctions).

That’s notable because the first last resort auction, for .信息, fetched just $600,000 when it sold to Amazon back in June.

As far as we can tell, last-resort auctions do not necessarily keep prices low, even though the losing bidders in this week’s auctions will have walked away empty-handed.

In private auctions, losers leave holding a share of the winner’s bid.

This week, most of the $14.3 million raised will go into a special ICANN fund.

Akram Atallah, president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division said in a statement:

The proceeds from these Auctions will be separated and reserved until the Board determines a plan for the appropriate use of the funds through consultation with the community. We continue to encourage parties to reach agreements amongst themselves to resolve contention.

The ICANN community has been chatting about possible uses for auction funds for years.

Ideas such as subsidizing new gTLD applicants from poorer nations in future rounds and investing in internet infrastructure in the developing world have been floated.

Victims of first confirmed new gTLD collision respond: “Fuck Google”

Kevin Murphy, September 12, 2014, Domain Registries

A number of companies have experienced errors on their networks due to collisions with a newly introduced gTLD.

The initial outcry from victims can be characterized as a storm of profanity, which it could be argued is a good thing for security but not great for ICANN’s reputation.

The collisions, which I believe are the first to be publicly and widely reported, are due to Google’s new gTLD .prod, which was delegated September 1.

Google intends to use the TLD as a shorthand for “product”, but it seems some companies use it internally to mean “production”, meaning production servers rather than testing or development servers.

Issues started being reported on online fora on September 3, with Google unfairly bearing the brunt of the initial blame. Here are a few of the earliest examples from Twitter:

A day later, Reddit user “cunttard”, under a post entitled “Fuck Google”, wrote:

Google recently activated prod. TLD.

They also decided to wildcard DNS all entries to 127.0.53.53 to resolve name collisions for internal organisations. All because they wanted .prod for product? Why not fucking request .product?

The implications have been fucking horrendous. I am in the process of helping a mate unfuck his organisations DNS, which heavily relied on resolver search $FQDN to map xyz.prod to xyz.prod.$FQDN. Note this wasn’t even used as an internal TLD. Now they’re all resolving short names to 127.0.53.53. Lesson learnt; always use FQDN everywhere.
I’m just fucking sick of ICANN / Google continuing to fuck DNS.

LinuxQuestions user “fantasygoat” started a thread entitled “New tLD .prod is messing with my configs”, in which he wrote:

I used to be able to refer to just the subdomain in a DNS lookup, like “www1.prod” and it would know I meant “www1.prod.example.com”, my local domain. I’ve been using prod.example.com for decades as the production subdomain for various things.

Now it resolves to 127.0.53.53, which I believe is ICANN’s hack DNS answer for tLDs.

So, I have a bunch of config files without the domain name and it’s messing stuff up. Does anyone have a workaround so I can have my DNS respond to .prod requests as a subdomain of my domain?

I’ve found a couple of other examples on various mailing lists and web forums with systems administrators experiencing similar issues over the last week.

This, it seems to me, shows that ICANN’s hack for mitigating the risks of name collisions, developed by JAS Advisors, is working as expected.

In each reported case of a .prod collision I’ve been able to find, the admin either had already worked out that he needed to use a fully-qualified domain name (eg www.prod.example.com instead of www.prod) or was swiftly advised to do so by those responding to his post.

Most seem to have spotted that instead of returning NXDOMAIN errors, Google is returning the IP address 127.0.53.53, which was chosen because it’s an internal IP and because 53 is the TCP/IP port number for DNS.

Diverting to 127.0.53.53 is designed to catch the eye, alerting admins to the need to correctly configure their networks.

It certainly seems to be doing that, but it’s not winning ICANN or new gTLD registries any new friends.

Nobody has yet reported death or injury due to a collision.

Update: There has been one previously reported collision, concerning .guru.

Google beats Microsoft to .docs

Google and Microsoft seem to have settled their contention set for the .docs new gTLD, with Google emerging the victor.

Microsoft withdrew its application for .docs this week.

It’s not clear how the deal was made, but Google is known to have participated in private auctions for other strings.

Google Docs is of course Google’s office document service.

Microsoft also has a Docs service, a collaboration with Facebook at Docs.com, but it seems to have been in beta since April 2010 and, by the looks of the site, isn’t what you’d call a success.

Amazon and Google deal on .talk, .play, .drive and others

Google and Amazon have started making deals to settle their new gTLD contention sets.

Google won three contention sets against Amazon this week, judging by the latest withdrawals, while Amazon won two.

Amazon won .talk and .you after Google, the only other applicant, withdrew.

Neither company appears to have a “You” brand, unless you count YouTube, but the .talk settlement strongly suggests that Google Talk, the company’s instant messaging client, is on the way out.

When Google applied for .talk in 2012 it intended to give Talk users custom domains to act as a contact point, but in 2013 Google started to indicate that it will be replaced as a brand by Google Hangouts.

The withdrawal seems to suggest that the existence of a gTLD application, a relatively small investment, is not an overwhelming factor when companies consider product rebranding.

I wonder what effect a live, active TLD will have on similar decisions in future.

But Google won the two-horse races for .dev and .drive and after Amazon withdrew its applications.

Google has a product called Google Drive, while Amazon runs Amazon Cloud Drive. Both companies have developer programs, though Google’s is arguably the more substantial of the two.

Google has also won .play — Google Play is its app store — after Amazon, Radix and Star Registry’s withdrawals. Amazon does not have a Play brand.

Google has also withdrawn its application for .book, leaving six remaining applicants, including Amazon, in the contention set.

I don’t currently know whether these contention sets were settled privately or via a third-party auction.

Four reasons Google Domains isn’t a Go Daddy killer

Judging by DI’s traffic spike last night, there’s a lot of interest in Google Domains, Google’s forthcoming entry into the domain name registrar market.

And judging by some of the early commentary, it seems that many people are already assuming that the service will be an overnight success.

Some people already seem to be willing to write off market leader Go Daddy specifically, for some peculiar reason.

I’ve even heard speculation that Google timed its announcement to screw with Go Daddy’s imminent IPO, which strikes me as veering into conspiracy theory territory.

While I’ve no doubt Go Daddy and other mass-market retail registrars will be watching Google’s move with interest and concern — and there are some reasons to be worried — let’s not jump the gun here.

Let’s calm the hyperbole a little. Off the top of my head, here are a handful of reasons not to get excited just yet.

1. It could be a really shitty product

There seems to be an assumption in some quarters that whatever Google brings to market will be automatically incredible, but the company really doesn’t have the track record to support that assumption.

Sure, its search engine may be great and services such as Gmail and Adsense may be pretty good, but have you ever tried Blogger?

Do you actually use Google+, or do you only have an account because Google forced you?

The truth is that lots of Google products fail.

And we haven’t even seen Google Domains yet. Nobody has. Only Google employees and their buddies are going to get beta access, so it seems we’re going to be waiting a while before we can judge.

2. There’s no 24×7 support

Google Domains will launch with support via email and phone from 9am to 9pm US Eastern time, Monday to Friday.

Would you switch to a registrar that doesn’t have round-the-clock support seven days a week? As a small business owner who makes his living from his web site, I sure wouldn’t.

If Google Domains gains traction you can expect support hours to be expanded pretty quickly, but a lack of 24×7 support at launch will keep many customers away.

3. It’s not free

Some people seem to be obsessed with the notion that Google is going to give away free domains, and that kind of commentary is continuing even though we know Google Domains will charge $12 for a .com.

Its email service may come at no additional cost, but its email service is Gmail, and that’s already free. Google could hardly start charging an add-on fee for something that’s always been free.

Google Domains may offer free privacy too, but so do lots of other registrars.

In future, Google registry arm Charleston Road Registry may give away free names in some of its new gTLDs, but if it does so that price will have to be available to all registrars, not just Google Domains.

Google Domains isn’t free. It’s not even the cheapest registrar on the market.

4. Go Daddy is gigantic

According to its recent regulatory filings, Go Daddy has 57 million domains under management and 12 million customers.

How many of those do you think will make the switch to Google? How many will even know that such a switch is possible?

Switching registrars may be relatively straightforward if everything you own is parked, but it becomes more complex when you’re running your web site, email and so forth on your registrar’s platform.

These kinds of small business owners are the customers being targeted by Google and Go Daddy, and if they already have web sites they’re likely already experiencing registrar lock-in.

According to its announcement, Google is targeting greenfield opportunities — the 55% of small businesses it estimates don’t have an online presence today — rather than grabbing market share from rivals.

The “small businesses need to get online” story is common to every press release issued by every web host and domain registrar with a price promotion to plug.

When Google teamed up with Blacknight to give away domains for free — for FREE, so it is, so it is — to Irish small businesses, it managed to sign up 10,000 in one year.

How long do you think it will take Google to get to 57 million names under management?