Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Donuts puts date to first Sunrise, signs big registrars, says it won’t have a landrush

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts has announced the dates of its first Sunrise periods and revealed that it’s not planning to run a landrush period for its first seven new gTLDs.

The company said today that it plans to take .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles and .ventures to Sunrise on November 26.

It’s opted for a 60-day Sunrise period, going to full general availability on January 29 next year. The company said:

Donuts will forego a traditional land-rush and move directly to general availability to all registrants on January 29, 2014. Donuts’ gTLDs are available for registration by anyone without restriction.

Donuts also said it has signed the following registrars to its channel: GoDaddy, 1&1 Internet, Web.com, Tucows, Host Europe Group, Key-Systems, CSC Digital Brand Services, MarkMonitor, NetNames, Gandi, united-domains, Melbourne IT and 101domain.

While the press release issued this afternoon suggests that the seven strings in question have already been delegated, I’m not seeing them in the DNS root zone yet.

NameJet and Afternic sign another gTLD launch

Kevin Murphy, April 3, 2013, Domain Services

NameJet and Afternic will provide launch auctions and premium name distribution for the .build gTLD, should it be approved, the two companies have announced.

The deal was inked with applicant Plan Bee LLC, which is affiliated with Minardos Group, a construction company.

The two companies will handle auctions under the sunrise and landrush phases, according to a press release.

It’s the second such deal to be announced by the Afternic/Namejet partnership to date, after WhatBox’s .menu. The companies are also working with Directi’s .pw registry.

Plan Bee has also applied for .expert and .construction, but these are both contested so there’s less certainty that they’ll end up approved.

The applicant reckons it will be able to bring .build to market in the fourth quarter of this year.

With a prioritization number of 1,049 in ICANN’s queue, this may prove optimistic, depending on how the remaining portions of the program — such as predelegation testing and contracting — pan out.

Directi sells 4,000 .pw domains in first half hour

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2013, Domain Registries

PW Registry, the Direci unit looking after the .pw registry, said it received orders for 4,000 domain names in its first 30 minutes of general availability today.

Disappointing? It’s certainly not up to the standard of, say, .co, which was well into six figures in the same period when it launched a few years ago.

But .pw’s ambitions weren’t quite as lofty as .co’s. It’s the ccTLD for Palau, and its chosen meaning of “professional web” isn’t nearly as intuitive or valuable as .co’s “company”.

Still, it’s early days, and Directi says it saw a reasonable amount of domainer action during its landrush phase.

Landrush and sunrise period numbers have not been disclosed, but the company said that Apple, Pfizer, Volkswagen and Nokia obtained their trademarks during sunrise.

PW Registry has 110 registrars, including many of the big ones, selling its names.

Was .xxx’s launch disappointing?

Kevin Murphy, December 8, 2011, Domain Registries

The weekend box office numbers are in, and .xxx didn’t put as many bums on seats as might have been expected.

ICM Registry sold 55,367 new .xxx domain names in its first 24 hours of general availability, giving it a total of almost 159,351 registrations, according to the company.

That’s pretty good going for a TLD which, despite the spin in ICM’s recent TV commercials, is intended for a limited customer base, and which is selling for $80 to $100 a year.

Given its $60 registry fee, ICM will have taken over $3.3 million in revenue yesterday, over $550,000 of which will be given to its sponsoring organization, IFFOR.

However, the 159,351 total includes non-resolving domains, ICM has confirmed.

Due to the unique trademark protection mechanisms put in place for non-porn companies, it’s possible to pay for a .xxx domain that will only ever resolve to a standard registry placeholder.

ICM has previously said that it took almost 80,000 sunrise applications, and that the landrush phase put its total “comfortably over 100,000”.

It did not, however, break out the mix of Sunrise A (resolving) and Sunrise B (non-resolving) domains.

That’s an important distinction, both for ICM’s ongoing revenue and for gauging demand for .xxx among registrants.

Each Sunrise B domain gave ICM a $161 windfall but, unlike every other TLD launched to date, has the sale had no recurring revenue component.

I think it’s possible that 50,000 to 60,000 sunrise domains were non-resolvers, which would give .xxx a total of roughly 100,000 active domains under management after one day of GA.

(My assumptions are that all 80,000 sunrise applications were unique and approved, and that roughly two thirds were for Sunrise B non-resolving domains).

Assuming all the active domains are renewed, it’s a $6 million a year business (or $5 million, if you exclude the mandatory IFFOR donation) for ICM already.

The .xxx zone is already bigger than .travel, .pro, .jobs, .aero, .coop, .museum and .cat. It will likely be bigger than .name, .tel and .asia by the end of the month.

So why suggest that it’s a disappointing result?

Pre-reservations

First, for a few years ICM was accepting no-cost .xxx “pre-reservations” through its web site, while its gTLD application was in ICANN limbo.

It racked up over 900,000 such reservations for roughly 650,000 unique .xxx domain names before shutting the offer down in July this year.

One might expect that most people interested enough in .xxx to pre-register a domain months or years in advance might also be interested in grabbing that domain during landrush, sunrise or at the moment of GA. That apparently didn’t happen.

.CO

Let’s also compare .xxx to the launch of .co by .CO Internet last year.

While .CO did not have anything like the long-term media exposure as .xxx, it did of course have the advantage of offering a completely generic string priced at a third of .xxx.

Within its first 24 hours of general availability, .CO said that it had 233,000 domains under management, about 39,000 of which were landrush or sunrise registrations.

Even at the cheaper registry fee (about $20 a year) .CO still made more money in day one than ICM (although ICM wins hands-down in terms of premium domain sales).

.CO, incidentally, also only had 10 accredited registrars at launch (not counting resellers) compared to ICM’s over 70.

Go Daddy

Go Daddy is responsible for roughly half of all new .com registrations, with similar numbers in other TLDs including .co, but it does not appear to be promoting .xxx very heavily.

For the last few days, its homepage has contained only one small below-the-fold reference to .xxx domains. Its TLD drop-down menu has .xxx in tenth place, between .biz and .ca.

Conversely, ICM has been promoting Go Daddy (and DomainMonster) more heavily in its own marketing – notably on gavin.xxx, the site “owned” by its TV commercial character.

Expectations

So is .xxx on track to meet expectations at this early stage?

ICM CEO Stuart Lawley has previously predicted 300,000 to 500,000 registrations in the first few months, and that’s still an achievable goal given its day-one performance.

.CO Internet, for example, more than doubled its 233,000 first-day take within two months of going into general availability.

The new Russian ccTLD .рф registered 200,000 domains in its first six hours when it launched in November 2010, and hit 800,000 by April this year.

While .xxx clearly hasn’t yet smashed estimates in the same way as its sunrise did, I think early indications are that it’s looking pretty healthy.

One in five .рф domains have web sites

Kevin Murphy, November 14, 2011, Domain Registries

The .рф registry celebrated its first launch anniversary last week, with almost one million .рф names registered and apparently almost one in five domains with an active web site.

According to RU-Center, which says it is the registrar of record for 40% of .рф (.rf) names, about 18% of the Cyrillic domains registered in the last year resolve to full web sites.

The registrar said in a press release:

18% of names have website, 16% do redirect, 4% are on parking, 15% are just delegated but not available, and 15% have a plug webpage. 29% of .RF names are unused.

That compares to the 18.7% use penetration of .info, which has been around for over a decade, assuming RU-Center and Afilias compiled their numbers using a similar methodology.

RU-Center also said that 94% of .рф sunrise registrations have been renewed. The rate of landrush registration renewals, which give an indication of what speculators think of the space, will not be clear until December, it said.

It is apparently now also possible for non-Russians to obtain .рф domains.

.xxx faces big test as landrush kicks off

Kevin Murphy, November 8, 2011, Domain Registries

The landrush phase for ICM Registry’s .xxx domain is scheduled to begin today, following the oversubscribed sunrise period that closed last week.

Given the inherently defensive nature of sunrise periods – most of the almost 80,000 applications were for non-resolving domains – landrush is the first big test of public demand for working .xxx names.

I expect healthy interest from domainers, despite the relatively high price of landrush registrations.

High-profile investors including Frank Schilling and Mike Berkens have already invested seven figures in .xxx via its Founders Program, which may set the tone for the rest of the community.

The landrush period runs until November 25. Contested domains will go to auction in December. General availability is currently scheduled to begin December 7.

Domain Name Wire has compiled a handy guide to the best-priced landrush registrars.

.xxx sunrise auctions delayed after 80k applications

Kevin Murphy, November 2, 2011, Domain Registries

ICM Registry has apparently delayed the results of its just-closed .xxx sunrise period until December to give it a chance to clear its backlog of unverified applications.

Corporation Services Company, a major brand-protection registrar, is reporting tonight that ICM and its validation firm, IProta, does not expect to finish validating trademark claims until November 28.

That’s a week later than ICM had planned to kick off the auction phase of the sunrise period, during which contested domains will be awarded to the highest bidder.

“The results of the applications that were submitted during the Sunrise phase will therefore not be available until the first week of December,” CSC said on its blog.

ICM announced yesterday that it has received almost 80,000 sunrise applications from trademark owners and porn companies seeking .xxx domains to match their .coms.

Almost half of those applications were filed during the last week of sunrise. Each trademark claim needs to be individually validated against government databases by IProta.

The plan, according to ICM’s web site, was to start auctioning contested sunrise domains November 21 and to take .xxx into general availability December 6.

Landrush kicks off next Tuesday, running for 17 days. Landrush auctions are scheduled to commence December 12, according to ICM’s web site.

Court throws out Russian gaming scandal claims

Kevin Murphy, November 2, 2011, Domain Registrars

Russian registrar RU-Center has won its appeal against a $7.5 million government fine, following claims that it gamed the launch of .РФ, registering tens of thousands of names to itself.

The Moscow Arbitration Court yesterday reversed the decision of the Federal Antimonoply Service, according to a statement from RU-Center, the .РФ registry and local media reports.

The dispute centers on the launch of the Cyrillic-script ccTLD last November, which saw over 200,000 registrations in the first six hours and half a million domains registered in the first few weeks.

RU-Center was quickly hit by claims that it had used its access to the registry, ccTLD Coordination Center, to register over 65,000 premium names to itself in order to auction them to users.

It later emerged that some of the Coordination Center’s launch policy-setters had ownership interests in RU-Center either directly or through family members.

In challenging the FAS ruling, RU-Center said that it only registered domains in its own name, via other registrars, because it had taken over 120,000 pre-orders from customers but was limited to filing 4,800 registrations per hour by the registry.

It also said that the domains remained in its own name because registry rules prohibited transfers during the first year of registration. The transfers will be effective November 11, it said.

Open .co landrush re-auctions — the full list

Kevin Murphy, October 4, 2011, Domain Sales

.CO Internet is putting 100 .co domain names that failed to auction during its landrush last year up for “re-auction”, and it looks like there are a few possible gems on the list.

The company said last week that the 100 names are the last of the domains that went to auction but failed to change hands due to a lack of bidders or non-payment by the winner.

While the first auctions were restricted to only those who had paid the landrush fee, this time around anybody can participate. Pool.com will again handle the auction.

There are some potentially nice names, such as accidentlawyers.co, injurylawyers.co, seoul.co, comicbooks.co and businessintelligence.co.

Click here for the full list of names.

The first .xxx porn site has gone live

Kevin Murphy, August 2, 2011, Domain Registries

Casting.xxx tonight has become officially the first live porn site to use a .xxx domain name.

It’s very not safe for work, of course, but if you head over there right now you can watch a handful of streaming videos, according to sources.

Casting.xxx is the first site to use a domain granted under ICM Registry’s Founders Program, which let the registry sell off or basically give away premium names to publishers.

ICM says it’s allocating about 1,500 domains to about 35 Founders, which is quite a lot more domains than I was expecting.

The .xxx top-level domain has been active in the domain name system for a few months now, but to date the only resolving domains have been those belonging to registry manager ICM.

Casting.xxx is registered to a Really Useful Ltd, which appears to have been set up purely to build sites on .xxx domains, of which casting.xxx is the first of several.

The .xxx sunrise period begins next month, with landrush in November and general availability slated for December.