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Dot-brand early adopter becomes 48th to disappear

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2019, Domain Registries

A Singaporean telecommunications company has become the latest gTLD registry to voluntarily drop its dot-brand.

StarHub, which had 2018 revenue equivalent to $1.73 billion, told ICANN it no longer wished to operate .starhub in February and ICANN opened its request up for a month of public comment last week (a formality).

It’s the 48th of the several hundred original dot-brand applications to change its mind after delegation.

Notably, StarHub was one of the first companies to announce its participation in, and tout the expected benefits of, the new gTLD program.

Back in February 2012, when most applicants were playing their cards close to their chest because the application window was still open, Oliver Chong, assistant vice president of brand and marketing communications at StarHub, said:

We believe the ‘.starhub’ Top-Level Domain will deliver clear marketing and advertising benefits to StarHub, such as improved online brand recall and a more intuitive consumer experience with easy to remember domain names such as ‘mobile.starhub’. We also anticipate potential Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) benefits by operating a more targeted and relevant naming system that is clearly matched with our website content.

Yeah… so, none of that actually happened.

Like all the other dot-brands to self-terminate, StarHub never actually used .starhub, other than the obligatory nic.starhub placeholder.

As an aside that may counterbalance this bad news for the perception of new gTLDs, one of StarHub’s competitors in the Singapore mobile market is called Circles.Life. It uses circles.life as its primary domain and has apparently performed respectably since its launch in 2016.

Imagine that! A mobile phone operator being successful using a new gTLD domain!

Exclusive: StarHub confirms dot-brand gTLD bid

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2012, Domain Registries

Singapore telecommunications firm StarHub will become the fifth company to publicly reveal plans for a “dot-brand” generic top-level domain.

The company, which offers broadband internet, cable TV and mobile telephony and has annual revenue of about $2 billion, is set to announce tomorrow that it will apply to ICANN for .starhub.

It’s the first confirmed dot-brand applicant since ICANN opened the application window January 12. It’s also the first since Neustar announced its own plans last June.

StarHub plans to use the gTLD to enable domain names such as tv.starhub and broadband.starhub.

ARI Registry Services has the contract to run its registry back-end and Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services is its application consultant.

Oliver Chong, assistant vice president of brand and marketing communications at StarHub, said:

We believe the ‘.starhub’ Top-Level Domain will deliver clear marketing and advertising benefits to StarHub, such as improved online brand recall and a more intuitive consumer experience with easy to remember domain names such as ‘mobile.starhub’. We also anticipate potential Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) benefits by operating a more targeted and relevant naming system that is clearly matched with our website content.

To date, only Deloitte, Canon and Hitachi have publicly confirmed corporate dot-brand applications.

Registry services provider Neustar also wants .neustar, but its announcement was a little self-serving so I’m not sure that it “counts”.

We’re also aware of some other likely candidates, such as IBM and Unicef, but most companies are playing their cards pretty close to their chests.

ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis said he hopes the announcement of .starhub will “open the floodgates” for other Asian companies to apply for their own new dot-brand gTLDs.

While it’s a significant revelation – at least likely to drive StarHub’s competitors into action if they’re not already – similar predictions were made when Canon announced its dot-brand bid almost two years ago.

Many registry operators are already predicting as many as 1,000 dot-brand applicants.

I’m not ready to predict a slew of similar announcements just yet, but a confirmed dot-brand bidder will certainly do no harm to registries currently trying to persuade clients to sign on the dotted line.