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New gTLDs growing faster than .com, latest Verisign data shows

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2015, Domain Registries

New gTLDs grew faster than .com in the last 12 months.

That seems to be one of the conclusions that can be drawn from Verisign’s Q2 Domain Name Industry Brief, which was published (pdf) yesterday, if you dig into the numbers a little.

The headline number is that the number of all domains across all TLDs was 296 million, up sequentially by 2.2 million domains. That’s annual growth of 16.4 million domains, Verisign said.

I thought it might be interesting to see where that growth came from, so I plugged the numbers from Verisign’s last five DNIB reports into a spreadsheet, reproduced in this table.

All TLDsccTLDsngTLDs.com
06/30/14280,000,000129,300,0001,500,000113,700,000
09/30/14284,000,000132,100,0002,000,000114,900,000
12/31/14288,000,000134,000,0003,600,000115,600,000
03/31/15294,000,000136,900,0004,800,000117,800,000
06/30/15296,000,000138,000,0005,860,000118,500,000

From these numbers, we can calculate the quarterly sequential growth, measured in domains, for the whole DNS, for .com, for new gTLDs and for ccTLDs.

That table looks like this:

All TLDsccTLDsngTLDs.com
TOTAL16,000,0008,700,0004,360,0004,800,000
09/30/144,000,0002,800,000500,0001,200,000
12/31/144,000,0001,900,0001,600,000700,000
03/31/156,000,0002,900,0001,200,0002,200,000
06/30/152,000,0001,100,0001,060,000700,000

It appears from this table that .com grew by more domains than new gTLDs over the last year — 4.8 million versus 4.36 million — but the numbers are a bit misleading due to the way Verisign sources its data.

For most ccTLDs, Verisign has always used the third-party research outfit ZookNic, which has its own way of estimating registration volumes.

For new gTLDs, Verisign uses the zone files as published daily by ICANN — the same source DI and others use to measure volume.

However, for .com Verisign uses its own in-house data source. It is, after all, the .com registry.

The numbers for .com you find in the DNIB reports are exactly the same as the numbers Verisign gives financial analysts and investors when it reports its quarterly earnings.

And the company changed the way it reports those numbers in Q1 this year.

See that unusually high addition of 2.2 million names in .com in Q1 in the above table? That reflects the addition of very nearly 750,000 hidden .com names in March this year.

At that time, Verisign started counting domains that are on “hold” statuses, largely due to new ICANN policies on unverified Whois information.

The last two DNIB reports have sourced .com numbers with this disclosure:

The domain name base is the active zone plus the number of domain names that are registered but not configured for use in the respective Top-Level Domain zone file plus the number of domain names that are in a client or server hold status.

The actual Q1 growth number for .com should in the 1.4 million to 1.5 million range, which would bring .com’s total growth over the last four quarters down to roughly 4.1 million names.

An apples-to-apples comparison of extant zone-file domain growth would show new gTLDs beating .com, in other words.

But is this a fair measure of demand?

No. It’s fairer to say that .com still outsells its competition by a long way.

New gTLDs had yet to experience any significant churn by Q2 this year, as most had been on the market for under a year, so the growth numbers are more or less untempered by the renewal cycle.

While Verisign’s .com growth is net, for new gTLDs it’s almost all gross.

Verisign says in the latest DNIB has it had 8.7 million new registrations across .com and .net in the second quarter, which would be roughly eight times as many as new gTLDs — all several hundred of them combined — managed to move.

.sexy may be blocked in Iran

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2015, Domain Tech

Some networks in Iran appear to be systematically blocking Uniregistry’s .sexy gTLD.

That’s one of the conclusions of a slightly odd experiment commissioned by ICANN.

The newly published An Analysis of New gTLD Universal Acceptance was conducted by APNIC Labs. The idea was to figure out whether there are any issues with new gTLDs on the internet’s DNS infrastructure.

It concluded that there is not — new gTLDs work just fine on the internet’s plumbing.

However, the survey — which comprised over 100 million DNS resolution attempts — showed “One country, Iran, shows some evidence of a piecemeal block of Web names within the .sexy gTLD.”

The sample size for Iranian attempts to access .sexy was just 30 attempts. In most cases, users were able to resolve the names with DNS, but HTTP responses appeared to be blocked.

The survey did not test .porn or .adult names, but it might be safe to assume similar behavior in those gTLDs.

APNIC also concluded that Israel’s .il ccTLD, included in the report as a known example of TLD blocking at the national level, is indeed blocked in Iran and Syria.

The study also found that there may be issues with Adobe’s Flash software, when used in Internet Explorer, when it comes to resolving internationalized domain names.

That conclusion seems to have been reached largely because the test’s methodology saw a Flash advertisement discretely fetching URLs in the background of web pages using Google Ads.

When the experimenters used HTML 5 to run their scripts instead, there was no problem resolving the names.

The study did not look at some of the perhaps more pressing UA issues, such as the ability for registrants and others to use new gTLD domain names in web applications.

Sunrise accounts for under 1% of new gTLD regs

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2015, Domain Registries

New gTLD registries can expect just 125 sunrise registrations on average, according to statistics just released by ICANN.

The new data, current as of May 2015, also shows that there have been just 44,077 sunrise registrations in total, over 417 new gTLDs.

That’s less than 1% of the total number of new gTLD domain registrations to that date.

The numbers were published in a revised version of ICANN’s Revised Report on Rights Protections Mechanisms, a discussion paper on mechanisms such as sunrise, Trademark Claims and URS.

It also contains the first authoritative breakdown of sunrise regs by TLD, though it’s limited to the 20 largest.

Sunrise

Many of these numbers match closely what DI has previously reported, but .porn and .adult are substantially lower because ICM Registry only revealed consolidated numbers that took account of its unique non-TMCH sunrise periods.

None of the ICANN figures include .sucks, which hit sunrise after the numbers were compiled in May.

ICANN throws lifeline to flopping new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2015, Domain Registries

New gTLD registries with lower than expected sales will now be able to reduce the amount of their “failure bond”.

ICANN has introduced a new Continued Operations Instrument Amendment Service, which will enable registries to raise or lower the amount of their COI depending on how business is going.

A COI is a letter of credit or cash in escrow that registries must secure in order to fund three years of emergency operations in the event that their businesses fail.

The amount of the COI is calculated from sales projection and ranges from $18,000 (for under 10,000 names) to $300,000 (over 250,000 names).

Let’s face it, at the moment the amendment service must surely be targeted largely at companies that over-estimated their future sales and secured a COI much larger than they needed.

If they’ve escrowed cash, the new service will allow some of that money to be freed up to spend on more useful activities.

ICANN said that if it determines that a registry has under-projected its sales, it will be able to refer it to the new service in order for the COI to be increased.

Currently, only four new gTLDs have over 250,000 names under management, judging by zone files.

Who wants ICANN’s $60m gTLD windfall?

Kevin Murphy, September 9, 2015, Domain Policy

ICANN has opened a formal public comment period to move forward discussions on how it should spend the almost $60 million it has so far received in new gTLD auction proceeds.

It’s not yet looking for concrete suggestions on how to spend the money — this is a pre-consultation consultation — it’s only looking for comments on the principles that should be considered when discussions take place.

ICANN has so far raised $58.8 million from “last resort” new gTLD auctions. With 27 contention sets remaining, that number could go up if one or more applicants refuse to participate in private auctions.

The GNSO Council has been moving to create a Cross-Community Working Group to discuss how the money should be spent, but clashed briefly with the ICANN board, which has said it will make the ultimate decision, earlier this year.

The new paper (get it here) basically asks questions along the lines of: who should decide where the money goes? How should conflicts of interest be handled? How much third-party expert opinion should be solicited? How much say should the board have? How much outreach should there be?

Underpinning it all is the implicit problem that the longer, more detailed and more convoluted the process, the less money there will be to actually distribute at the end.

Knowing the ICANN community’s propensity for convolution, I wouldn’t be surprised if it managed to spunk the whole lot on expert advice, working group travel, lawsuits and coffee.

(Okay, I would actually be surprised, but you get my point).

The paper also includes links to about 20 spending suggestions that have been made in various public fora over the last couple of years.

Some ideas include: giving it back to the applicants, funding open source DNS software, reducing the new gTLD application fee, marketing new gTLDs to registrants, and donating it to charity.

It does not appear to be true that ICANN slipped in one of its own management’s suggestions in an attempt to funnel off new gTLD money into the unpopular NetMundial initiative, as has been alleged elsewhere today. The NetMundial suggestion referred to in the paper actually came from Danny Aerts of Swedish ccTLD manager IIS.