Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

.xyz is now the biggest new gTLD (kinda)

The controversial new gTLD .xyz is now officially the biggest, with 67,504 domains under management.

That’s according to today’s zone files, which see former number ones .club at 65,630 and .guru at 60,480.

Due to what appears to be an ICANN screw-up, there were no zone files available for any new gTLDs via the Centralized Zone Data Service yesterday, so I can’t tell you what the daily growth numbers are.

But .xyz had 36,335 names in its zone on Wednesday. It’s grown by 85% in two days.

That’s a shocking, unprecedented growth spurt.

The question is, of course, how many of these registrations are legit?

.xyz has come under a great deal of fire from domainers the last few days, after it emerged that the majority of its growth in the first days of general availability was questionable.

Network Solutions, it transpired, had seriously inflated .xyz’s numbers by registering .xyz names matching existing .coms on behalf of its customers without their permission and for no charge.

NetSol seems to have paid .xyz a few hundred thousand dollars for domain names its customers have not requested.

Data from today’s .xyz zone file is likely to reinforce the perception that most of .xyz’s apparent popularity is bogus.

I see that 56,019 domain names in .xyz today — 82% of the gTLD’s total — are using register.com name servers.

Those name servers belong to Web.com, NetSol’s parent company.

There were 27,000 such names on Wednesday. While .xyz as a whole has grown by about 31,000 names in two days, NetSol’s .xyz share has grown by about 29,000 names.

Nobody believes that NetSol, with its $40 retail price for .xyz (with a wholesale price I peg at around $6 to $7), could have obtained this market share with actual, paid-for sales.

I believe that the large majority of NetSol’s roughly 56,000 .xyz names are freebies, not reflective of buyer demand.

Many domainers are incandescent about this.

They look to registration numbers as a measurement of demand, which could be a predictor of the resale market for a TLD, so they’re upset at anything that looks like a manipulation of that number.

Daniel Negari, the charismatic CEO of .xyz, has borne the brunt of this criticism, despite the fact that there’s no evidence out there yet that .xyz supported or had prior knowledge NetSol’s mass giveaway.

Negari has so far refused to comment on the situation (he hasn’t responded to several inquiries from yours truly), which has only served to reinforce the suspicion that the registry was somehow complicit in NetSol’s promotion and used the registrar to artificially inflate its numbers.

I have no evidence one way or the other.

NetSol refused to even confirm the existence of the promotion when DI inquired earlier this week.

.xyz launch inflated by massive NetSol giveaway

Network Solutions gave away thousands of .xyz domain names for free to people who hadn’t requested them, artificially inflating the new gTLD’s launch day numbers.

As of last night, there were 36,335 domains in the .xyz zone, with something like 27,000 listed as having name servers belonging to NetSol and its parent, Web.com.

Before .xyz launched, only 1,287 new gTLD domains used NetSol name servers.

What this means is that for some reason thousands upon thousands of .xyz domain names were registered via one of the industry’s more expensive registrars.

That reason, as Mike Berkens at The Domains scooped, is that many names were given away for free to existing NetSol customers.

Not only that, but the giveaway was opt-out — if you were selected for the promotion you had to click a link in an email in order to prevent NetSol registering the .xyz that matches your .com.

So not only did the registrants of a significant portion of .xyz’s new registrations not pay for their names, they didn’t even request them.

A lot of garbage strings — some of which have matching .coms I suspect are being used for nefarious purposes — have therefore made it into .xyz’s zone alongside many decent-enough names.

When I asked NetSol, a spokesperson refused to confirm the giveaway, calling it a “market rumor”. This is apparently the kind of promotion you don’t want anyone hearing about.

It’s not clear how many of these 27,000 names were genuine registrations and which were part of the promotion, but I suspect, given NetSol’s prior performance in new gTLDs, that the vast majority were freebies.

This has happened before.

About 10 years ago, Afilias temporarily dropped its first-year price for .info to zero dollars, hoping to attract more registrations and paying renewals.

Instead, eNom decided to register a million .info names matching its customers’ .com names, put them in its customers’ accounts, and park the lot.

A year later, over 99% of those names were allowed to expire by registrants who hadn’t requested them in the first place.

The difference in this case seems to be that .xyz itself is still getting paid its registry fee for each of the names NetSol gave away.

But if history is any guide, .xyz’s numbers could be in for a big drop 15 months from now.

.xyz launch crashed CentralNic

The launch of .xyz took back-end provider CentralNic’s registry down for 15 minutes on Monday.

That’s according to an email sent by the company to registrars, copies of which were forwarded to DI today.

The email says that CentralNic’s EPP systems were down between 1603 and 1618 UTC on Monday, just a few minutes after .xyz went into general availability. It goes on to say:

The large volume of EPP commands exceeded our database system’s capacity to handle them, causing a bottleneck which then propagated back to the EPP application servers.

As you know, we have launched a number of SLDs and TLDs in the past; this is the first launch that we have experienced any issue with, despite some of our previous launches being of comparable size.

.xyz took almost 15,000 registrations in its first 10 hours, many of which will have been concentrated in those first few minutes.

CentralNic said it intends to put in place some measures to prevent a similar crash when it handles .ink’s launch day for Top Level Design on June 23.

Registrars will have their number of simultaneous connections to the registry limited, the email says. CentralNic will also turn off some functions of the database for the short duration of the initial surge.

The company added that the time of registration recorded by registrars may be out of whack with the time recorded by the registry as a result of the outage.

Was I wrong? .xyz claims 31,000 regs on day one

.xyz’s first full day of general availability saw it total 31,119 registrations, suggesting that it’s not doing as badly as I suggested in a post earlier today.

Today’s .xyz zone file shows 14,924 names, up 14,829 on the day, but Gavin Brown, CTO of .xyz back-end CentralNic, just commented that the 24-hour number is actually 31,119.

The zone files for each new gTLD are made available by ICANN — assuming the Centralized Zone Data Service is working — at 0100 UTC every day. Brown said that .xyz’s file today was generated an hour later.

That means the 14,924 total represented the first 10 hours of GA, as indicated in my original piece today.

For a new gTLD to sell more domains in the second half of its first GA day than during the first is unusual, because gTLD launches to date have tended to rely quite heavily on pre-orders.

Pre-orders, a decent measure of demand, generally hit the registry within the first few minutes of general availability, as registrars try to secure the names their customers want.

That has the effect of stacking first-day registrations heavily towards the first few hours of GA.

Take .club, for example. It sold 25,776 names in its first 10 hours. But 24 hours later that number had crept up to just 30,680, an increase of just 4,904.

Similarly, TLD Registry’s .在线 moved just shy of 20,000 names in its first 12 hours of general availability, but had sold only 1,000 more names a full 24 hours later.

I didn’t think it unreasonable to assume that .xyz would follow the same pattern, but this front-loading doesn’t seem to have happened in .xyz’s case.

Did I make a faulty assumption?

If registrations are indeed coming in at a more measured pace than preceding launches, then .xyz may not be falling behind CEO Daniel Negari’s aggressive growth targets at all.

Was I wrong to say that .xyz hasn’t lived up to the hype? Maybe. We’ll need some more days of data to be sure.

.xyz fails to live up to the hype

.xyz sold just shy of 15,000 domain names during its first hours of general availability.

That’s according to zone files released today.

The registry added 14,829 names yesterday, ending the period with 14,924 in its zone, making it the 15th-largest new gTLD by volume, behind the likes of .center, .directory and .solutions.

(UPDATE: see the bottom of this post for important updates on these numbers.)

While it’s a respectable first-day performance — logging more sales that I expected it to — it’s doesn’t look like the registry is going to hit CEO Daniel Negari’s target of a million names in year one.

Earlier this week, Negari enthusiastically blogged, in a post tagged simply “believe”:

There is no doubt in my mind that the growth rate of .xyz will surpass the growth rate of .com. It won’t take us 20 years to reach one million registrations. It will only take 1 year. The growing number of internet users online today, the increasing demand for domain name registrations, and the way we have positioned .xyz all validate this projection. Soon we will see that there is only one competitor to .com, and that is .xyz.

Averaged out over a year, a million registrations is over 2,700 per day, a rate that no other new gTLD registry has managed to sustain to date.

If .xyz follows the path taken by its predecessors, it will probably rack up a thousand or so more names per day for the next few days, likely making it a top-ten new gTLD within a week, before settling down to a comfortable rate of 200 to 300 per day.

So far, .guru (four months old) and .club (one month old) are the only gTLDs with significant volumes that have managed to double their launch-day figures.

.xyz is going to be in desperate need of some more marketing if its wants to get to one million by June 2, 2015.

As I’ve always said, I think .xyz is a tough sell.

As Negari says, the string has “little-to-no meaning”, and the game has always been to brand .xyz as being even more generic than .com.

The registry has attempted to shoehorn it into meanings such as “It is the ending of the alphabet, and it is the ending of domain names” and “Generations X, Y and Z”.

But it seems to be one of those sales pitches you either get or you don’t. I’ve heard it many times, and I still don’t.

So 15,000 names in half a day, by my expectations, is not bad.

However, despite the 15,000 names, we’re talking about a TLD with a sub-.com registry fee, being retailed by some registrars for under $10.

With a million names, that’s a nice little business. Sub-100,000, not so much.

There are plenty of people out there who will immediately say the “success” of new gTLDs in general is a combination of many factors, of which volume is only one, and I agree.

It’s only day one for .xyz, but for a cheap-as-chips gTLD that has explicitly made itself a volume play, I think registration count is a fair way to measure its success going forward.

UPDATE: According to Gavin Brown, CTO of .xyz back-end CentralNic, the number of names in the zone file almost 24 hours after GA began is actually 31,119, over double what the registry sold in the first 10 hours.