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First IDN gTLD auction raises $181,000

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2014, Domain Sales

TLD Registry today raised over $181,000 in “premium” Chinese IDN domain names.

A live/online auction coordinated by Sedo and held at the China Rouge members’ club here in Macau saw 39 lots go under the hammer, 33 of which managed to raise at least the $2,000 minimum bid.

All the names were in .在线 (“.online”), of two Chinese IDN gTLDs TLD Registry launched this week.

Each lot contained multiple names.

In all cases the ASCII transliteration, or Pinyin, was thrown in. Some lots also contained conceptually related names. So the winner of “casino”.在线 also won “gambling”.在线.

Buyers will presumably be able to split the bundles for resale.

The lot with the highest bid at the end of the day was a collection of domains related to “gaming”, which sold for $25,388. Second was a “casino” bundle, which fetched $25,000

.CLUB Domains CEO Colin Campbell spent $7,100 on “club”.在线 and related terms.

Here’s the full list of auction results. Apologies to my Chinese readers, but I don’t have a Chinese keyboard nor a source document to copy and paste the actual names that were sold.

LotWinning Bid (USD)
TOTAL$181,714
make money2500
Go (the game)2000
pay2250
dinner2000
tall, handsome and rich2100
club7100
cosmetics2200
bitcoin14388
casino25000
go to Hong Kong2000
bookkeeping2000
watch TV2000
reunion0
United Kingdom2550
personal homepage0
domain investing2500
discount4100
buy and sell3100
study English2250
maintaining your health2000
I love you2000
babysitting0
I want to eat2000
diet network2000
furniture2800
real estate16000
hot/popular2000
new cars2000
learn about wine0
luxury watches6400
travel and weather0
sell5588
hot search terms2400
loans7500
delivery information0
rent15500
financing2000
gaming25388
trademark6100

DISCLOSURE: I attended most of the auction and moderated a panel discussion during the lunch break. TLD Registry paid for my airfare and accommodation.

First ICANN gTLD auction slated for June 4

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2014, Domain Policy

ICANN has published a preliminary schedule for its first new gTLD contention set auctions, which would see the first batch hit the block on June 4 this year.

The plan is now to sell off roughly 20 strings every month, with the last lot going under the hammer in March 2015, a full year from now.

Each contention set, of which there are 233, has been allocated to a batch, ordered by the applicants with the best position in the prioritization queue governing all aspects of the new gTLD program.

But each batch is filled with sets that have either already been resolved or which are currently “ineligible” for auction for one reason or another.

Ineligible contention sets are those that include an application that has, for example, an outstanding change request or a piece of unresolved Governmental Advisory Committee advice.

For example, the 12 applications for .app are scheduled for a July auction, but none of them are going anywhere until the GAC advice against the string goes away.

Naturally enough, ICANN says it’s a preliminary schedule that is subject to a lot of change.

Applicants in contention sets may nevertheless draw comfort from the fact that these auctions finally seem to have firm dates. The auctions were originally slated to start this month.

Community gTLD applicants flunk on “nexus”

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2014, Domain Policy

The first four Community Priority Evaluation results are in, and all four applicants flunked by failing to prove a “nexus” between the new gTLD string and the community they purport to represent.

No applicant score more than 11 points of the 14 necessary to pass. A total of 16 points are available.

Winning a CPE automatically wins a contention set — all the other applicants for the same new gTLD must withdraw — so it’s a deliberately difficult test.

The scoring mechanism has been debated for years. Scoring 14 points unless the gTLD string exactly matches the name of your organization has always struck me as an almost impossible task.

The first four results appear to substantiate this view. Nobody scored more than 0 on the “nexus” requirement, for which 4 points are available.

The four CPE applicants were: Starting Dot (.immo), Taxi Pay (.taxi), Tennis Australia (.tennis) and the Canadian Real Estate Association (.mls). All four were told:

The string does not identify or match the name of the community, nor is it a well-known short-form or abbreviation of the community.

In some cases, the evaluation panel used evidence from the applicant’s own applicant to show that the string “over-reaches” the community the applicant purported to represent.

The application for .Taxi defines a core community of taxi companies and drivers, as well as peripheral industries and entities.

While the string identifies the name of the core community members (i.e. taxis), it does not match or identify the peripheral industries and entities that are included in the definition of the community

In other cases, the panel just used basic common sense. For example, Tennis Australia was told:

Tennis refers to the sport and the global community of people/groups associated with it, and therefore does not refer specifically to the Tennis Australia community.

Starting Dot (.immo) and Taxi Pay (.taxi) both also scored 0 on the “Community Establishment” criteria where, again, 4 points were available.

In that part of the CPE, the applicants have to show that their community is clearly delineated, organized, and long-standing.

In both cases, the panel found that the communities were too eclectic, too disorganized and too young — neither existed before the new gTLD program kicked off in September 2007.

It’s not looking promising for any of the 14 CPE applicants listed by ICANN here. I’ll give $50 to a charity of the applicant’s choosing if any of them scores more than 14 points.

TLD Registry sells 20k+ IDN gTLD names to Chinese gov

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2014, Domain Registries

TLD Registry has sold 20,452 new gTLD domain names to the Chinese government as it prepares to launch .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”) and .在线 (“.online”) tomorrow.

The deal, signed this week with the Service Development Center of the State Council Office for Public Sector Reform (SCOPSR) is for 10,226 names in each gTLD.

The domains include the Chinese-script names of every city in China with a population of over 200,000, as well as counties, municipalities and other regional names.

Strings that translate to things like “invest in [place name]” and “tourism [place name]” have also been registered to the government in both TLDs, according to the company.

It looks like this is the first significant anchor tenant deal we’ve seen in the new gTLD program.

Assuming China actually uses these names, it could be great publicity for the new registry’s gTLDs. The government has a policy of transitioning all of its services to fully IDN.IDN domains.

If not, it still means that both gTLDs stand to launch with over 10,000 names in each zone file on day one, even before regular registrants have had a chance to buy them.

The company is also set to auction a bunch of premium names in both namespaces on Friday simultaneously via Sedo and a live event at a private members’ club in Macau.

I’m posting this from Hong Kong airport, en route to the Macau event. As a matter of disclosure: TLD Registry is paying for my flights and accommodation.

Registrars screwing up new gTLD launches?

Kevin Murphy, March 18, 2014, Domain Registrars

Some of the largest domain name registrars are failing to support new gTLDs properly, leading to would-be registrants being told unregistered names are unavailable.

The .menu gTLD went into general availability yesterday, gathering some 1,649 registrations in its first half day.

It’s not a great start for the new gTLD by any stretch, but how much of it has to do with the channel?

I tested out searches for available names at some of the biggest registrars and got widely different results, apparently because they don’t all properly support tiered pricing.

Market leader Go Daddy even refuses to sell available names.

The .menu gTLD is being operated by a What Box? subsidiary, the inappropriately named Wedding TLD2.

The company has selected at least three pricing tiers as far as I can tell — $25 is the baseline registry fee, but many unreserved “premium” names are priced by the registry at $50 and $65 a year.

For my test, I used noodleshop.menu, which seems to carry the $65 fee. Whois records show it as unregistered and it’s not showing up in today’s .menu zone file. It’s available.

This pricing seems to be accurately reflected at registrars including Name.com and 101domain.

Name.com, for example, says that the name is available and offers to sell it to me for $81.25.

Name.com

Likewise, 101domain reports its availability and a price of $97.49. There’s even a little medal icon next to the name to illustrate the fact that it’s at a premium price.

101domain

So far so good. However, other registrars fare less well.

Go Daddy and Register.com, which are both accredited .menu registrars, don’t seem to recognize the higher-tier names at all.

Go Daddy reports the name is unavailable.

Go Daddy

And so does Register.com.

Register.com

For every .menu name that carried a premium price at Name.com, Go Daddy was reporting it as unavailable.

With Go Daddy owning almost half of the new gTLD market, you can see why its failure to recognize a significant portion of a new gTLD’s available nice-looking names might impact day-one volumes.

The experience at 1&1, which has pumped millions into marketing new gTLD pre-registrations, was also weird.

At 1&1, I was offered noodleshop.menu at the sale price of $29.99 for the first year and $49.99 thereafter, which for some reason I was told was a $240 saving.

1&1

Both the sale price and the regular price appear to be below the wholesale cost. Either 1&1 is committed to take a $15 loss on each top-tier .menu name forever, or it’s pricing its names incorrectly.

A reader informed me this morning that when he tried to buy a .menu premium at 1&1 today he was presented with a message saying he would be contacted within 24 hours about the name.

He said his credit card was billed for the $29.99, but the name (Whois records seem to confirm) remains unregistered.

I’d test this out myself but frankly I don’t want to risk my money. When I tried to register the same name as the reader on 1&1 today I was told it was still available.

If I were a new gTLD registry I’d be very worried about this state of affairs. Without registrars, there’s no sales, but some registrars appear to be unprepared, at least in the case of .menu.