Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

GoDaddy spearheads Domain Connect spec

Kevin Murphy, September 27, 2016, Domain Registrars

GoDaddy has published a new specification designed to make it easier for domain owners to quickly set up web sites using third-party site-building tools.

Its new Domain Connect Initiative is tailored for customers who do not know how to configure a DNS record and do not care to learn,according to Charles Beadnall, senior VP of domains.

While signing up for a participating site-building service, Shopify for example, customers currently have to either figure out how to manually reconfigure their DNS or get GoDaddy’s customer support to talk them through it.

GoDaddy currently receives tens of thousands of customer support calls every year related to these scenarios, Beadnall said.

But using Domain Connect, instead they will be able to simply enter their domain name with Shopify and, after authenticating with their registrar (via OAUTH), their domain’s DNS will be automatically configured to point to their new site.

This saves the customer’s time and GoDaddy’s money.

Under the hood, it works using a series of templates, authored by the service providers, which instruct the registrar or DNS provider in how to set up the domain to use the service, Beadnall said.

Due to the high risk of malicious exploitation, it’s not completely frictionless. Service provider templates must be manually pre-approved and white-listed by registrars, Beadnall said.

As the system does not involve domain registration or transfer it’s not really within ICANN’s policy wheelhouse, so the spec has instead been published via the IETF.

It has already been embraced by leading rival registrars eNom, Name.com and United Domains, as well as toolmakers including Microsoft, Shopify and Wix.

The announcement of Domain Connect was made a couple of weeks ago while I was off sick.

More information and documentation can be found on the Domain Connect web site.

Tickets on sale for newdomains.org conference

Kevin Murphy, June 19, 2013, Domain Services

After a year’s hiatus, the newdomains.org conference organized by United-Domains is back this October.

Registration has now opened for the two-day event, which is entirely focused on the new gTLD market. The agenda is still forming and United is looking for speakers.

The conference will take place in Munich at the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost hotel from October 28 to 29. Unlike the 2011 event, I believe this time the official Oktoberfest jollities will be over.

Early bird registration comes to €583 ($780) when you include VAT. Prices go up to €821 July 15.

Afilias, Verisign, Donuts, PIR, InternetX, Sedo, Nic.at have already signed up to sponsor.

While in 2011 newdomains had to compete with .nxt for your new gTLD conference dollar, this time it’s competing with Momentum’s gTLD Strategy Congress, coming to London in September.

Like .nxt, the first newdomains.org suffered from coming before the Big Reveal and became a bit of a vendor echo chamber as a result, but was nevertheless a breath of fresh air compared to ICANN meetings.

By October we might have seen the first new gTLDs go live, so this year it will likely be a different story. DI will be in attendance.

United Domains has 1 million new gTLD pre-regs

Kevin Murphy, January 16, 2013, Domain Registrars

United Domains announced today that its new gTLD pre-registration program has racked up its millionth domain.

The registrar has been accepting no-commitment pre-regs since mid-2011, and currently lets customers express interest in over 120 not-yet-approved gTLDs.

The most popular is .web, with over 123,000 expressions of interest to date.

Customers are not of course guaranteed anything in return for handing over their email addresses, but for registrars and registries such programs are a useful way to measure (and drum up) interest.

Some say such programs do little more than sow confusion among registrants, however.

M+M wins contract for ‘laptops and lederhosen’ gTLD

Kevin Murphy, January 20, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines has won governmental approval for its .bayern new gTLD application, according to the company.

The Bavarian state government has said it will back a bid for .bayern from Bayern Connect, which is majority-owned by M+M parent Top Level Domain Holdings, TLDH said today.

According to its press release, M+M will provide the back-end registry services, which strongly suggests that it does not plan to outsource to Neustar on this occasion.

Bayern Connect is not the only company to have announced a .bayern application, however.

Rival applicant PunktBayern, which is backed by United Domains and InterNetX among others, has been public about its plans for a couple of years too. Last year, it selected Afilias to provide its registry back-end.

If the Bavarian government is offering its exclusive support to Bayern Connect, as TLDH now says, it puts a serious question mark over the viability of the PunktBayern bid.

Under ICANN’s rules, any gTLD purporting to represent a state must secure the support or non-objection of the relevant government. Without that support, applications will be rejected.

PunktBayern does have a registered trademark on “.bayern”, however, so the tussle may not be quite over yet.

Bayern is the German name for Bavaria. The state has a population of about 12.5 million and quite a strong sense of its own identity.

It’s often referred to as the land of “laptops and lederhosen” due to a long-running government policy of friendliness to the tech industry.

Notes from day one of the Munich new gTLDs conference

Kevin Murphy, September 26, 2011, Domain Registries

The newdomains.org conference on new top-level domains kicked off here in Munich today, the first major show in Europe dedicated to new gTLDs.

The city is the grasp of Oktoberfest at the moment – the drunk tourist contingent is high, and it seems like every fifth person you pass on the street is in traditional local costume.

Hairy knees and lederhosen are the order of the day for the men. For the ladies: tight, low-cut biermädchen bodices and flowing skirts in earthy colors. Cleavage as far as the eye can see.

Munich feels, to this cultural Luddite at least, like it’s ready to dissolve into a bawdy, soft-core 1970s Bavarian sex comedy at any moment.

Thankfully, inside the stylish Sofitel Munich Bayerpost hotel the attire is strictly business-casual.

Turnout for newdomains.org appears to be good — maybe a couple hundred people — and there are plenty of faces beyond the “usual suspects”, thanks probably to the number of locals in attendance.

Today kicked off with a keynote from new ICANN chair Steve Crocker.

Allotted 30 minutes, he whizzed through his presentation on “New gTLDs: Innovation and Protection” in about 20, covering many of the same bases, I’m told by attendees, as he did at the INTA trademark conference in Washington DC last week.

“These new TLDs are a springboard for innovation,” he said. “But this must not happen at the expense of brand holders.”

At a press conference later, I got the distinct impression – and it is only my impression – that Crocker is rather more enthusiastic about the program than ICANN’s current softly-softly approach to new gTLDs outreach allows him to express.

The party line from ICANN for the last few weeks has been one of “awareness, not advocacy”, which Crocker toed loyally today.

This may be sensible – it should not be seen to encourage the world and his dog to apply for a new gTLD – but the end result is that the naysayers have managed to successfully frame the issue, which is reflected in the largely negative questions that are usually asked.

The conference is split into two streams, one aimed at newbies, the other at people in more advanced stages of planning their new gTLD bids. I’ve been mainly sitting in on the latter.

In the morning, Roland LaPlante from Afilias presented some really good data and charts showing domain registration trends in the new gTLDs that have been introduced over the last 10 years – both ICANN-approved gTLDs and ccTLDs such as .eu and .me.

If there was one big takeaway from that session, it was that the first and second-year renewal dates are crucial if you want to build a sustainable gTLD. Every TLD dips around that mark.

LaPlante also revealed that, in a first-quarter 2011 survey, 18.7% of .info addresses hosted unique, dedicated web sites. About 65% were inactive or redirected to other TLDs.

While this seems like a small amount, given the size of .info it actually works out to a couple of million people/businesses using a non-.com gTLD as their main home on the web. Any TLD, I think, would be happy to have so many actual users.

The main letdown in the Afilias data, I thought, was the absence of any mention of the success of .co.

Fair enough, .co is only a year old and its numbers are not fully public, but the cynic in me notes that its exclusion probably will have made Afilias’ back-end figures shape up against rival Neustar’s rather better than they would have otherwise.

In the afternoon, I moderated a panel on registration strategies in the world of new gTLDs, featuring Monte Cahn and Mike Berkens of Right Of The Dot and Tim Schumacher of Sedo.

But first, I caught the tail-end of a presentation about internet policy from PIR’s CEO Brian Cute, who seems to be worried about the growing problem of governments using domain takedown notices as a means of law enforcement.

Schumacher kicked off our session with a presentation on his thoughts about new gTLD pricing, in which he compared four categories of company you might find on the stockmarket to four equivalent categories of domain names.

Essentially, he concluded that new gTLDs are going to be split between “junk” – the gTLD equivalent of www.a-junk-site.ws – and “brands” – comparable to vodka.com.

He said the new gTLD boom will mean “Some new business. No real change.” in terms of pricing and said a small number of “disruptive” new registries could help the industry.

We then launched into a discussion of registries’ premium name strategies – how to balance the allocation of premiums between founders programs, landrush auctions and registry reservations.

Unsurprisingly, you couldn’t slide a cigarette paper between Cahn and Berkens, but I think there was probably some disagreement on the panel about the relative importance of the role of domain investors in promoting a new gTLD.

Berkens said that high-profile domainers are “market-makers”, helping set the valuation expectations, whereas Schumacher (and to a lesser extent some of my questions) put a greater emphasis on the need for end user adoption and development.

It’s difficult to judge the success of a panel you’re sitting on, but I will admit that we shamefully overlooked the issue of IDNs until the closing moments, which was entirely my fault.

I finished the day at the “Ask the Experts” session in the newbie channel, on the basis that I’ve listened to enough panels on new gTLDs in the last two years to know that the value, for me, is in the questions.

Sadly, possibly due to attendees flagging at the end of the day, there weren’t many questions from the floor, leaving professional moderator Melinda Crane to pick up the slack.

One session unlikely to have that problem tomorrow is a two-man panel on the Applicant Guidebook comprising ICANN’s Kurt Pritz and Olof Nordling.

Today, these two ICANN experts been sitting on the front row of many sessions, enabling panelists to deflect tricky audience questions about the application process to them.

I don’t think there will be any shortage of questions during their session tomorrow.

Last chance to win newdomains.org tickets

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2011, Domain Services

Congratulations to Jim Davies, you’ve just won a free conference pass for newdomains.org worth $1,000 for entering the latest DomainIncite competition.

Random.org’s random number sequence generator selected the winning order of tweets qualifying for the draw, and Twitter handle @PerthPom came top of the list.

That’s a second Australia-based winner, by the looks of things, after Michael’s win on Monday. I hope you guys can both afford the airfare.

Competition Day Three

I have two final tickets to give away.

To reiterate, they’re Full Conference passes for the newdomains.org conference in Munich, Germany, on September 26 and 27. Flights, hotels and Oktoberfest not included. Details here.

If you want a pass, just leave a comment here before 2359 UTC Sunday August 14, saying why you think you should get one. Make something up.

I’ll use Random.org again to pick the two lucky winners and announce the names on Monday.

All winners will be contacted by somebody from the conference organizer, United-Domains, next week.

UPDATE: Proving just how random Random.org is, the winning order it selected was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The winners are TAG and Daniel. I’ll be in touch.

Win $4,000 of newdomains.org conference tickets

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2011, Domain Services

I have four free passes for the upcoming newdomains.org conference, a total value of $4,000, which I will be giving away to lucky DomainIncite readers over the coming week.

The conference, the first in Europe to focus purely on the opportunities and challenges in ICANN’s new generic top-level domains program, is due to run September 26-27 in Munich, Germany.

The organizer, United-Domains, has generously offered to give four free “Full Conference” passes to DI readers. These are currently selling for €699 ($1,000) each.

The passes include full access to the panels (which will all be conducted in English) and the exhibits, as well as dinner, lunches and ample networking opportunities.

The prizes do not include transport to or accommodation in Munich. The passes also do not include the social event at the Oktoberfest beer festival scheduled for the second night.

See the newdomains.org site for ticket details.

I’ve agreed to participate in two of the conference panel discussions, but don’t let that put you off.

Competition Day One

There will be four random draws conducted over the coming week, with one ticket for each winner.

To be in with a chance to win the first pass, simply leave a comment on this post answering the following questions:

1) Which new gTLD(s) do you think will be successful?

2) Why?

You can define “successful” in any way you want. I will use the random number sequence generator at Random.org to select the winning order of comments, so there’s no “correct” or “best” answer.

It doesn’t have to be an already-announced gTLD bid. Any string(s) you think will be successful as a gTLD is acceptable. If you want to plug your own application, that’s okay too.

But anybody who answers “1) .com, 2) because it’s king” will be automatically disqualified.

The closing time for entries is 1159 UTC, Sunday August 7, judged by the time-stamp on the comment. The winner will be announced here on Monday. One entry per person.

Make sure to leave your comment using a genuine email address, as that is the method I’ll use to hook the winner up with the conference organizers.

The draw will be completely fair, so no asking for favors. In true ICANN spirit, if I suspect “gaming” is going on I reserve the right to unilaterally change the rules.

Okay, let’s see how this goes…

Blacknight warns about new gTLD “false promises”

Domain name registrar Blacknight Solutions has warned domain buyers not to be “duped” by registrars offering preregistration in new top-level domains that have not yet been approved.

“Every time an end user gets duped it hurts our industry and companies like us have to clean up the mess,” managing director Michele Neylon said.

In a press release, Blacknight said:

After receiving several queries from customers, Blacknight discovered that registrants interested in acquiring domains in rumoured new gTLDs had become confused by these offers, as they are not familiar with how the new TLD implementation might work. This sort of speculative offer is the equivalent of taking a down payment on a concept car that has not been approved for production. It is a false promise.

While the company was diplomatic enough to avoid naming names, I strongly suspect the release refers primarily to United Domains, which has been offering preregistration for the last few months.

UD currently offers such services for dozens of non-existent TLDs, such as (without leaving the B’s) .bank .bayern .bcn .berlin .bike and .board.

Given that none of the 50-odd potential gTLD applicants listed have revealed what their registration policies will be, it seems possible that many wannabe registrants will be left disappointed.

Don’t expect to be able to get a .bank domain via preregistration.

UD’s preregistering process looks a lot like a regular shopping cart, albeit with $0 pricing and no requirement to submit credit card details.

There is a FAQ that, if you read it, explains that there can be no guarantee you’ll get the names you ask for.

These services, and others like it, are basically ways to build up mailing lists of interested buyers, in order to contact them when domains actually start becoming available.

The registrar has already been burned by a couple of gTLD applicants.

LACNIC sent UD a nastygram in April, for example, when it discovered the registrar was offering preregistration in .lac.

Bizarrely, UD was at one stage accepting preregistration in .brand gTLDs in which literally no third party will qualify to buy a domain, such as .unicef.

ICANN has not to my recollection publicly stated a position on preregistration since 2000, when it said that “the practice of pre-registration should not be encouraged”.

New TLDs conference calls for speakers

The newdomains.org conference on new top-level domains, scheduled for September 26 and 27 in Munich, has put out a call for speakers.

Here’s the catch: if you’re interested, you might need an audition tape. The organizers want to see a short YouTube clip of your presenting skills in action before they consider your pitch.

Ram Mohan, CTO of Afilias, and Tim Schumacher, CEO of Sedo, are both already named on the draft agenda, but there are still plenty of open spots, including the first-day keynote.

Franz Josef Pschierer, IT commissioner of the Bavarian state government, will keynote day two.

The conference is being organized by the registrar United Domains, part of the same family of domain name companies as Sedo and 1&1 Internet.

While newdomains.org will take place in Germany, possibly the biggest market for new TLDs outside of the US, all the sessions will be conducted exclusively in English.

The conference currently looks like it’s shaping up along the same lines as the .nxt conference last month, with sessions on brand protection, community building, marketing and so on.

One notable difference is the addition of coached “workshops” as well as panel discussions.

Extracurricular activities include a tram ride around the city and a visit to the Hippodrom tent at Oktoberfest, the world-famous beer-drinking festival.

Needless to say, I shall be in attendance. For the trams, obviously.