While .africa finally went on sale last week after years of legal fights, it seems Africans may find themselves in the minority of registrants.
A combination of awareness, pricing and anticipated interest from Chinese domain investors, means that Africans could account for as few as 1 in 10 .africa registrations, according to Lucky Masilela, CEO of .africa registry ZA Central Registry.
The domain went into its sunrise period last week, and has a multi-phased launch planned out that will last until July 1, 2018.
After the trademark owners have had their crack at the domain — Masilela tells us that South Africa brands such as Nando’s are among the first to grab theirs — there will be five phases in which domains will be open to all but priced at a premium.
Starting June 5 there will be five landrush periods of five day, each a kind of hybrid between the traditional landrush period and the kind of Early Access Period offered by Donuts and others.
Each landrush will see all names priced at a certain amount, with the amount going down at the start of each period — $5,000 to $2,000 to $1,000 to $500 (all USD).
In the event that any name is claimed by more than one registrant, there will be an auction for that name at the end of the period.
Then on July 4 comes the first period of “general availability”, from which point all domains will be first-come, first-served.
But for the first 28 days of GA, domains will be priced at $150, other than domains categorized by the registry as premium.
Domains then come down to a more affordable $18 wholesale.
But that’s not the end. ZACR has baked in a price reduction to $12.50 wholesale, due to kick in July 1 2018. From then on out, it’s business as usual.
Unlike similar TLDs such as .eu, there are to be no geographic restrictions on who can register .africa names, and Masilela said he expects registrants from Africa to be in a minority.
“I think were are looking at about 10% from the continent, growing gradually over the years,” Masilela said. “The next wave is going to be international registrars.”
“We have a big suspicion that we will probably see a huge uptake coming from the east, which is the China market,” he said. “They’ll probably come in and grab a large number of domain names.”
He said that Chinese investment in Africa offline is likely to be mirrored online.
Pricing is also likely to be a factor. While .africa will bottom out, ignoring periodic discounts, at $12.50, that’s still quite a lot more than you’d expect to pay for African ccTLDs. ZACR’s own .za costs about $4 per year.
The relatively high price of becoming ICANN accredited has also meant that while Africa has 50-something countries, there are currently only about half a dozen gTLD registrars based there.
ZACR proposes to counter this by offering a gateway service rather like the one it already offers in .joburg and .capetown, that would help bring its own .za registrars on board.
The new gTLD .blog goes into general availability today, after some mild controversy about the way the registry allocated reserved domain names.
Knock Knock Whois There, the registry affiliated with WordPress maker Automattic, last week apologized to some would-be customers for declining to honor some landrush pre-registrations.
Some registrants had complained that domains that were accepted for pre-registration were subsequently added to KKWT’s list of registry-reserved names, making them unavailable for registration.
KKWT said in a blog post Thursday that the confusion was due to it not having finalized its reserved list until just before its landrush period kicked off, November 2.
Registrars, including those accepting pre-registrations, were not given the final lists until the last minute.
Landrush applications cost around $250 but were refundable.
KKWT also revealed the make-up of its founders program domains, the 100-strong list of names it was allowed to allocate pre-sunrise.
The founders program currently seems to be a bit of a friends-and-family affair.
Of the 25 live founder sites currently listed, about 20 appear to be owned by the registry, its employees and close affiliates.
The registry said in its blog post that 25 super-generic domains had been given to WordPress.com. It seems the blog host will offer third-level names in these domains for free to its customers.
.blog had 1,743 domains in its zone file yesterday.
General availability starts about 30 minutes from the time this post was posted, at 1500 UTC. Prices are around the $30 mark.
Dot London Domains’ .london had just shy of 35,000 domains in its zone file this morning, after its first partial day of general availability.
That’s an addition of 12,421 domains over yesterday’s number, making .london the 11th most-registered new gTLD.
This makes .london — which in my opinion has had one of the best launch marketing campaigns we’ve seen this year — the most-successful gTLD, in volume terms, after its first GA day.
It has beaten the 33,012 names that .在线 (“.online” in Chinese) and the 31,645 names that .berlin had in their zone files at the end of their respective GA days.
.london domains are not particularly cheap, either. Minds + Machines sells at £30 ($48) a year and Go Daddy (which lists .london at the top of its UK home page today) sells at $59.99.
UK-based Domainmonster, part of Host Europe Group, performed well with a £34.99 ($56) annual fee.
There were 22,547 .london names claimed during the “London Priority Period”, a combined sunrise/landrush phase that gave first dibs on names to trademark owners followed by London residents.
The registry has not broken down the mix between sunrise and landrush, but I believe based on the paltry sunrise performance of every other new gTLD to date that the vast majority were landrush names.
The full priority period queue has not yet been processed — domains with more than one applicant are currently in auction.
Back-end provider Minds + Machines, recently told the markets that it expects about a quarter of landrush/sunrise names to go to auction, so we could be looking at something like 7,500 applications (as opposed to domains) currently in the auction queue.
What this may mean is that .london had roughly 30,000 applications during its priority period, about 20,000 less than it had predicted back in July.
Dot London Domains is closely affiliated with London & Partners, the PR machine for the Mayor of London, so it had resources and access to throw at an effective marketing campaign.
Radix Registry has gone into landrush with its first new gTLDs, promising a “risk-free” experience for buyers who want to get into .website, .press and .host early.
But different registrars are handling the phase in different ways — with a staggering range of prices — so you could still lose money on domains you don’t get unless you shop around.
Business head Sandeep Ramchandani confirmed that while Radix does not have any nonrefundable components at the registry end, it’s up to the individual registrars to decide whether to follow suit.
Radix has set up a microsite to help would-be registrants compare prices and find a registrar with a refundable fee.
It’s a useful tool, because prices vary wildly by registrar.
For .website, the lowest-cost of the three gTLDs, you’ll probably want to avoid Go Daddy. Its “priority pre-registration” service costs a whopping $174.98 for a bog-standard domain, compared to landrush fees around the $40 mark at all the other listed registrars.
General availability pricing for .website appears to be in line with .com, with Name.com and Go Daddy both listing GA domains at $14.99.
.press and .host, which cater to rather more niche markets, have correspondingly higher base pricing. Both will hit GA with pricing ranging from $100 to $130, it seems.
To apply for names in either during landrush you can expect to pay between $250 and $360, depending on registrar.
You’re also going to have a harder time finding a registrar that will refund landrush fees in .press and .host; Radix currently lists four registrars doing this for .press and only two for .host.
For premium names, Radix is going the now fairly industry standard route of charging premium fees on renewals as well as the initial registration.
investing.website will set you back $3,125 a year at Name.com, for example, while whiskey.website will cost $312.50 a year.
Go Daddy is not yet carrying Radix premium names.
Some names have five-figure renewal fees attached, Ramchandani said.
But he added that Radix has only set aside “a few hundred” premium names in each of the three TLDs, a much lower number than most previous new gTLD launches.
The idea is to get domains out there and in the hands of users, he said.
The new microsite also carries a few downloadable spreadsheets of supposedly attractive names that are available at the basic, non-premium registration fee.
Seasoned domain investors might find some bargains there (assuming they don’t go to landrush auction), but there are also some oddities.
Is wellnessfinder.website worthy of a recommendation, just because the domain+website wellnessfinder.com sold for €300,000 in 2011?
And to what possible use could you put a vagina.press? I shudder to think…
The world’s insatiable appetite for property in London is being reflected in applications for domain names during .london’s landrush, according to the registry.
Just a few days before the landrush ends, over 30 applications have been filed for properties.london, Dot London said, and apartments.london and houses.london “are among the most sought after” domains.
The registry said:
Trades that serve the property industry are also proving popular, with addresses such as removals.london and scaffolding.london receiving numerous applications, while there are three times as many applications for estateagent.london as for lettingagent.london.
The property market in London is utter madness right now. The average price of a house here is £567,392 ($963,275), up over 12% on a year ago, according to Zoopla.
I could buy a three-bedroom semi-detached house in the town of my birth for the price of a parking space in London.
Apartments literally smaller than a snooker table were selling for £90,000 ($152,000) two years ago.
It’s madness, I tell you, madness.
While much of the house price boom can be blamed on overseas investors, many of whom leave their properties vacant, Dot London is at least giving the city’s residents special treatment in .london.
The landrush is being carried out simultaneously with the sunrise period. Both commenced April 29 and end July 31.
Trademark owners get priority, followed by applicants with London addresses. In the event domains are contested by multiple applicants with the same priority, there’ll be a private auction.
Dot London says that the most-popular landrush domain is nightlife.london, completely unrelated to property. It has more than 40 applications.