The world economy is “conservatively” losing out on almost $10 billion of annual revenue due to a lack of support for new gTLDs and internationalized domain names, according to an ICANN-commissioned research report.
The report, conducted by Analysys Mason for the semi-independent Universal Acceptance Steering Group, calculated that patchy new gTLD support means $3.6 billion of activity is lost, with lack of IDN support costing $6.2 billion.
Despite “new” gTLDs being around for a decade and a half, there are still plenty of web sites and apps that incorrectly assume that all TLDs are either two or three characters. Others don’t support non-Latin scripts.
This leads to internet users abandoning transactions, the report says, when their email addresses are rejected as invalid.
Mason calculated the $3.6 billion number by multiplying the estimated number of email addresses using new gTLD domains (152 million) by the estimated average annual revenue generated per email address ($360), then calculating what portion of these transactions cannot happen due to incomplete TLD support.
Earlier research by .CLUB Domains suggests that 13% of sites do not support new gTLDs, so that’s the number Mason used. The researchers then cut the number in half, to account for the 50% of people it reckons would simply switch to an email address in a legacy TLD name.
That gets you to $3.6 billion of potential revenue lost for want of gTLD support.
Another, more cynical way to spin this would be to say that new gTLDs are causing $3.6 billion of economic damage. After all, if everyone were to use legacy TLDs there would be no problem.
For the IDN number, Mason calculated how many users of five major language groups (Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Indian languages) are not currently online, then estimated how much revenue would be generated if just 5% of these users (17 million people) were persuaded online by the existences of IDN TLDs.
The report was commissioned in order to raise awareness of the financial benefits of universal acceptance.
The UASG has spent most of its efforts so far focusing on UA as a “bug fix” to be communicated to engineers, so the report is intended to broaden its message to catch the attention of the money people too.
The report, which goes into much more detail about how the numbers were arrived at, can be downloaded here.
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.
A self-professed geek from Australia is running a campaign to raise awareness of new gTLDs by naming and shaming big companies that don’t provide comprehensive TLD support on their web sites.
SupportTheNew.domains, run by university coder Stuart Ryan, has been around since last June and currently indexes support problems at dozens of web sites.
The likes of Facebook, Amazon, Adobe and Apple are among those whose sites are said to offer incomplete support for new gTLDs.
It’s the first attempt I’m aware of to list “universal acceptance” failures in any kind of structured way.
Ryan says on the site that he set up the campaign after running into problems signing up for services using his new .email email address.
The site relies on submissions from users and seems to be updated whenever named companies respond to support tickets.
Universal acceptance is a hot topic in the new gTLD space, with ICANN recently creating a steering group to promote blanket TLD support across the internet.
Often, sites rely on outdated lists of TLDs or regular expressions that think TLDs are limited to three characters when they attempt to verify domains in email addresses or URLs.
A little over a year into the live phase of the new gTLD program, a group of domain industry companies are getting together to make sure the expansion is supported across the whole internet.
A new Universal Acceptance Steering Group has formed, with the support of ICANN and the Domain Name Association, to help fix many of the compatibility problems facing new gTLD registrants today.
“The basic problem is that these new types of domains and email addresses just break stuff,” Google’s Brent London said during a UASG meeting at the ICANN meeting in Singapore last week.
“You try to use an internationalized domain or a long new gTLD, or even a short new gTLD, or certainly an internationalized email address and you’re likely to run into problems,” he said. “What we’re doing is going around asking developers to make their products work.”
Universal acceptance is a long-understood problem. Even 15 years after the approval of .info there are still web sites that validate email addresses by ensuring the TLD is no longer than three characters in length.
But the 2012 new gTLD round has brought the issue into sharper focus, particularly given the introduction of internationalized domain names, IDNs, which use non-Latin scripts.
Over the last year we’ve seen scattered examples of popular software — including browsers, instant messaging and social media apps — not recognizing new gTLD domains as domains. The problems I’ve seen are usually fixed quite quickly.
While I’ve not seen any deal-breakers that would prevent me registering a new gTLD domain, I gather that IDN email addresses are often basically unusable, due to the chain of dependencies involved in sending an email.
In my experience as a programmer, supporting all TLDs is not a particularly challenging problem when you’re coding something afresh.
However, when bad practices have been coded in to large, sprawling, interdependent systems over decades, it could be likened to the Y2K problem — the so-called Millennium Bug that caused developer headaches worldwide at the end of the last century.
There’s also a tonne of bad advice on the web, with coders telling other coders to validate domains in ways that do not support an expanding root.
UASG members think the problem is large-scale and that it’s a long-term project — 10 years or more — to fix it satisfactorily.
Members include Donuts, Google, Microsoft, Go Daddy and Afilias.
The DNA has started creating a repository of information for developers, with the aim of describing the problem in plain English and providing code samples. Along with other UASG members, there’s a plan to conduct outreach to make more people aware of the acceptance issue.
You can check out the repository in its unfinished state here.
ICANN is getting involved in a coordination role. After the UASG’s inaugural meeting in Washington DC a few weeks ago, ICANN hosted a session during ICANN 52.
A cybersquatted domain in a new gTLD was deployed to perpetrate a hoax about the death Macaulay Culkin at the weekend, but reports insisted on adding a “.com” to the name.
A prankster set up a fake news report at msnbc.website, which was registered via Domains By Proxy on November 5, reporting the former child actor had been found dead at 34 in his apartment.
MSNBC is of course an American TV news network which usually operates at msnbc.com.
While unconvincing, the hoax nevertheless reportedly managed to string along a fair few Twitter users before the news media got around to debunking it. Culkin is, at time of publication, alive.
What’s interesting, and no doubt frustrating if you’re in the new gTLD industry, is the number of media outlets — both mainstream and tech-oriented — that got the domain name wrong.
According to Google News, at least 10 publications, including the International Business Times and The Inquisitr, have reported the domain in question was “msnbc.website.com”.
Even publications that correctly linked to msnbc.website still reported the incorrect .com domain in the anchor text, perhaps displaying the level of ignorance about new gTLDs out there today.