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Google reveals launch dates for two new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, August 24, 2022, Domain Registries

Google is slowly working through its backlog of unlaunched new gTLDs, this week announcing go-live dates for two dormant strings.

.boo and .rsvp will both follow the same launch schedule, with month-long Sunrise periods for trademark owners beginning October 4 and general availability starting November 15.

There will also be Early Access Periods, where names can be secured early for daily-decreasing premium fees, running from November 8 to November 15.

Google Registry described .boo as for those “building a website for love, laughs, or a surprise”, while .rsvp is for customers “celebrating a wedding, throwing a fundraiser, or accepting bookings for their business”.

They appear to be among the lightest-touch Google TLDs in terms of restrictions.

Google has been sitting on both gTLDs for over eight years.

Google to launch a shopping-themed gTLD next week

Kevin Murphy, March 22, 2022, Domain Registries

Google is dipping into its bag of dormant gTLDs again, planning to start selling a shopping-themed string next week, apparently having abandoned plans to use it as an exclusively YouTube-related space.

The gTLD is .channel, which it applied for 10 years ago as a closed, Google-only gTLD, with this mission statement:

The sole purpose of the proposed gTLD, .channel, is to host select YouTube channels’ digital content. The proposed gTLD will introduce a dedicated Internet space in which select YouTube channel providers can link to the content hosted on their respective YouTube page.

But the company has changed its mind in the intervening decade and the new plan bears little resemblance to the application.

Now, we’re looking at something commerce-themed that at least at first will be sold via hand-picked channel partners. There’s no mention of YouTube in the registry’s new policies, which state:

.channel domain names are intended solely for use by creators and publishers to host or redirect to storefronts featuring digital and physical products, and audience-building mechanisms for the purpose of monetization.

That sounds rather like it’s going up against the likes of .shop, .store and .shopping.

While a weaker string, Google’s brand carries a lot of weight when it comes to new gTLD sales, and it sounds like the company is going to lean into partners for its initial wave of registrants a little like Amazon did with .bot.

The current launch plan submitted to ICANN calls for a year-long Limited Registration Period starting May 2, saying:

prospective registrants may submit an application to register a .channel domain name through an onboarded content creation platform (each, a “Platform”) on which the prospective registrant has an account.

Platforms will review applications and work with Registry Operator to have domains registered to prospective registrants

I’m speculating a bit here, but I’m guessing we’re talking about e-commerce and storefront-creation services, which could include both registrars and non-registrars.

Before the LRP, the company has told ICANN (pdf) that the invitation-only Qualified Launch Period for .channel will begin on March 29 and run to May 2.

This period, where domains may carry a premium fee, gives the registry a chance to build up its base of anchor tenants who can be leveraged to market .channel to a broader customer base.

Trademark owners will want to note that the sunrise period runs from April 5 to May 9. They’ll have to launch a rules-compatible storefront or keep their domains defensively dark.

There’s no word on general availability yet.

Nightmare downtime weekend for some eNom and Google customers

Kevin Murphy, January 17, 2022, Domain Registrars

Some eNom customers have experienced almost two days of downtime after a planned data center migration went titsup, leading to DNS failures hitting what users suspect must have been thousands of domains.

Social media has been filled with posts from customers complaining that their DNS was offline, meaning their web sites and email have been down. Some have complained of losing money to the downtime.

Affected domains include some registered directly with eNom, as well as some registered via resellers including Google Workspace.

The issue appears to have been caused by a scheduled data center migration, which was due to begin 1400 UTC on Saturday and last for 12 hours.

The Tucows-owned registrar said that during that time both reseller hub enom.com and retail site enomcentral.com would be unavailable. While this meant users would be unable to manage their domains, DNS was expected to resolve normally.

But before long, customers started reporting resolution problems, leading eNom to post:

We are receiving some reports of domains using our nameservers which are failing to resolve. Owing to the migration we are unable to research and fully address the issue until the migration is complete. This is not an expected outcome from the migration, and we are working to address it as a priority.

The maintenance window was then extended several times, by three to six hours each time, as eNom engineers struggled to fix problems caused by the migration. eNom posted several times on its status page:

The unexpected extension to the maintenance window was due to data migration delays. We also discovered resolution problems that impact a few hundred domains

eNom continued to post updates until it finally declared the crisis over at 0800 UTC this morning, meaning the total period of downtime was closer to 42 hours than the originally planned 12.

A great many posts on social media expressed frustration and anger with the outage, with some saying they were losing money and reputation and others promising to take their business elsewhere.

Some said that they continued to experience problems after eNom had declared the maintenance over.

eNom primarily sells through its large reseller channel, so some customers were left having to explain the downtime in turn to their own clients. Google Workspace is one such reseller that acknowledged the problems on its Twitter feed.

Some customers questioned whether the problem really was just limited to just a few hundred domains, and eNom seemed to acknowledge that the actual number may have been higher.

I’m in contact with Tucows, eNom’s owner, and will provide an update when any additional information becomes available.

Google to release another new gTLD next month

Kevin Murphy, November 19, 2021, Domain Registries

Google Registry is gearing up to unleash another gTLD from its stockpile of unreleased strings next month.

The gTLD is .day, one of over 100 that Google applied for in 2012 after a reported brainstorming session at the company.

According to its application:

The specialization goal of the proposed gTLD is to offer a new Internet environment that allows users to create and organize events that have or will occur on a particular day. The proposed gTLD will provide a single domain name hierarchy for Internet users globally to promote celebrations, such as a holi.day, wedding.day, or birth.day.

With that in mind, it’s difficult to see .day being a high-volume TLD along the lines of Google’s popular .app or .dev gTLDs.

While the company itself doesn’t seem to have addressed the launch publicly, it has given details to registrars and informed ICANN about its start-up dates.

It started a Qualified Launch Program program earlier this week. That’s where it gets to hand out a limited number of domains to hand-picked anchor tenants.

The sunrise period, restricted of course to trademarks, begins December 14 and ends January 24.

General availability starts January 25, according to registrars and ICANN records, with a seven-day Early Access Period during which domains can be purchased at daily-decreasing premium prices.

Full regular-price general availability begins February 1.

These eight companies account for more than half of ICANN’s revenue

Kevin Murphy, October 19, 2020, Domain Policy

While 3,207 companies contributed to ICANN’s $141 million of revenue in its last fiscal year, just eight of them were responsible for more than half of it, according to figures just released by ICANN.

The first two entries on the list will come as no surprise to anyone — they’re .com money-mill Verisign and runaway registrar market-leader GoDaddy, together accounting for more than $56 million of revenue.

Registries and registrars pay ICANN a mixture of fixed fees and transaction fees, so the greater the number of adds, renews and transfers, the more money gets funneled into ICANN’s coffers.

It’s perhaps interesting that this top-contributors list sees a few companies that are paying far more in fixed, per-gTLD fees than they are in transaction fees.

Binky Moon, the vehicle that holds 197 of Donuts’ 242 gTLD contracts, is the third-largest contributor at $5.2 million. But $4.9 million of that comes from the annual $25,000 fixed registry fee.

Only 14 of Binky’s gTLDs pass the 50,000-name threshold where transaction fees kick in.

It’s pretty much the same story at Google Registry, formally known as Charleston Road Registry.

Google has 46 gTLDs, so is paying about $1.1 million a year in fixed fees, but only three of them have enough regs (combined, about one million names) to pass the transaction fees threshold. Google’s total funding was almost $1.4 million.

Not quite on the list is Amazon, which has 55 mostly unlaunched gTLDs and almost zero registrations. It paid ICANN $1.3 million last year, just to sit on its portfolio of dormant strings.

The second and third-largest registrars, Namecheap and Tucows respectively, each paid about $1.7 million last year.

The only essentially single-TLD company on the list is Public Interest Registry, which runs .org. Despite having 10 million domains under management, it paid ICANN less than half of Binky’s total last year.

The anomaly, which may be temporary, is ShortDot, the company that runs .icu, .cyou and .bond. It paid ICANN $1.6 million, which would have been almost all transaction fees for .icu, which peaked at about 6.5 million names earlier this year.

Here’s the list:

[table “62” not found /]

Combined, the total is over $70.5 million.

The full spreadsheet of all 3,000+ contributors can be found over here.

Google’s .new now generally available

After many months of pre-launch registration periods, Google has taken its .new gTLD to general availability today.

Names in .new are not cheap, have strict usage restrictions, and are not available at most of the larger registrars.

You may recall that Google is doing something quite innovative with the gTLD — each .new domain must resolve to a page in which the visitor can immediately (or after logging in) create something new, such as a blog, image, spreadsheet, presentation, webcast and so on.

Over 500 domains have been claimed during sunrise and limited registration periods so far, and dozens are live and functioning according to spec already.

I’ve seen prices ranging from about $450 at Gandi to $550 at 101domain. Google Domains prices names at about $540.

Due to the high registry pricing and restrictions, many registrars do not seem to be carrying the TLD. But GA started just a few minutes ago at time of posting so it’s possible more might come online shortly.

Mucho weirdness as Google “forgets” to renew major domain

Google has lost control of a key domain name, breaking millions of URLs used by its customers.

It emerged today that the domain blogspot.in expired in May and was deleted around June 24.

It was promptly re-registered via a non-ICANN registrar based in India called Domainming and put up for sale on Sedo for $5,999.

Blogspot is the brand used by people using Google’s Blogger platform. While the .com is the primary domain, the company localizes URLs to the ccTLD of the visitor’s home country in most cases.

There are currently over four million blogspot.in URLs listed in Google’s index.

Most of the reports I’ve read today chalk the loss of the domain down to corporate forgetfulness, but it appears to be weirder than that.

Google uses MarkMonitor to manage its portfolio, so if it is a case of the registrar forgetting to renew a client’s domain, it would be hugely embarrassing for whoever looks after Google over there.

However, historical Whois records archived by DomainTools suggests something odder is going on. It looks like MarkMonitor would have been prevented from renewing the domain by the .in registry.

These records show that from June 1, 2018, blogspot.in has had a serverRenewProhibited status applied, basically meaning the registry won’t allow the registrar to renew the domain.

ICANN describes the code like this:

This status code indicates your domain’s Registry Operator will not allow your registrar to renew your domain. It is an uncommon status that is usually enacted during legal disputes or when your domain is subject to deletion.

Often, this status indicates an issue with your domain that needs to be addressed promptly. You should contact your registrar to request more information and resolve the issue. If your domain does not have any issues, and you simply want to renew it, you must first contact your registrar and request that they work with the Registry Operator to remove this status code. This process can take longer than it does for clientRenewProhibited because your registrar has to forward your request to your domain’s registry and wait for them to lift the restriction.

The domain was placed into clientDeleteProhibited, clientTransferProhibited, clientUpdateProhibited, serverDeleteProhibited, serverTransferProhibited, and serverUpdateProhibited statuses at the same time.

Basically, it was fully locked down at both registrar and registry levels.

All of those status codes apart from serverRenewProhibited were removed in the first week of May this year, after almost two years.

The registry for .in is government-affiliated NIXI, but the back-end provider is Neustar.

At the time the domain was locked down, Afilias ran the back end, and there was a somewhat fractious battle going on between the two companies for the .in contract.

Judging by the changing status codes, it appears that two years ago somebody — Google, MarkMonitor, NIXI or Afilias — put the domain into a state in which it could not be renewed, transferred or deleted.

For some reason, the domain stayed like that until just a couple of weeks before it expired, when the prohibitions on deletion and transfer were removed.

I’ve been unable to find any information about legal trouble Google had in India two years ago that would have led to this unusual state of affairs.

It doesn’t seem to be a simple case of forgetfulness, however.

Google launches .meet gTLD after Meet service goes free during lockdown

Google Registry is to launch its .meet gTLD next week with a sunrise period for trademark owners, but, perhaps controversially, it intends to keep the rest of the domains for itself.

It is expected that the company plans to use .meet domains in its Google Meet conferencing service, which was recently revamped and went free-to-use after Google realized that rival Zoom was eating its lunch during the coronavirus lockdown.

Google bought the .meet gTLD from Afilias back in 2015 but has kept it unused so far, even after the Meet service opened in 2017.

But according to ICANN records, it’s due to go into a one-month sunrise period from May 25, with an open-ended Trademark Claims period from June 25.

In a brief statement on its web site Google says:

Google Registry is launching the .meet TLD. This domain is Spec 9/ROCC exempt, which means we will be the registrant for all domains on the TLD and it will not be made generally available. The RRA for the TLD is available upon request, but registrations on behalf of the registry will be processed through a small number of registrars with whom the relevant product teams at Google work.

Translated from ICANN-speak, this means that Google has an exemption from Specification 9 in its .meet registry contract, releasing it from the Registry Operator Code of Conduct, which obliges registries to treat all registrars equally.

This means Google can’t sell the domains to anyone else, nor can it allow them to be controlled by anyone else, and it can use a limited pool of registrars to register names.

Spec 9 is a bit different to Spec 13, which exempts dot-brands from ICANN trademark-protection rules such as sunrise and Trademark Claims. You could argue that Spec 9 is “dot-brand lite”.

But what both Spec 9 and Spec 13 have in common is that they can’t be used in gTLDs ICANN considers a “generic string”, which is defined as:

a string consisting of a word or term that denominates or describes a general class of goods, services, groups, organizations or things, as opposed to distinguishing a specific brand of goods, services, groups, organizations or things from those of others.

Does .meet qualify there? It’s undoubtedly a dictionary word, but does it also describe a class of things? Maybe.

Google’s search engine itself gives one definition of “meet” as “an organized event at which a number of races or other athletic contests are held”, which one could reasonably argue is a class of services.

When Afilias applied for .meet in 2012, it expected it to be used by dating sites.

Google did not addresses the non-genericness of the string in its Spec 9 application. That judgement appears to have been made by ICANN alone.

Previously, requests for Spec 9 exemptions from the likes of .giving, .star, .analytics, .latino, .mutual, and .channel have been rejected or withdrawn.

It seems that Spec 9 exemption is going to somewhat limit .meet’s utility, given that third-parties will not be able to get “control or use of any registrations”.

As pricey .new launches, Google reveals first set of big-name users including rapper Drake

Kevin Murphy, December 4, 2019, Domain Registries

Google Registry has opened up its .new gTLD for registration for the first time, but whether you get to buy one or not will depend on a team of Google judges.
The company opened up its “Limited Registration Period” on Monday, and it doing so revealed a bunch of early-adopter registrants including eBay, Bitly, Spotify, Github, Medium, Stripe and the Canadian musician Drake.
It’s not an open registration period. If you want a .new domain you’re going to need to present Google with a business case, showing how you intend to use your chosen domain.
These applications will be judged by Google in seven roughly month-long batches, the first of which ends January 5 and the last of which ends June 21 next year.
Competing applications for the same domain in the same batch will be decided in a beauty contest by Google itself. Needless to say, if you’re champing at the bit for a .new domain, you’ll be wanting to apply in as early a batch as possible.
If you’re lucky enough to get to register a domain, you’ll have 100 days to put it to its promised use, otherwise Google will suspend the name and keep your money.
Registry pricing has not been disclosed, but 101domain is listing .new names at $550 retail. You need the nod from Google before you get to buy the domain from a registrar.
Google says the pricing, which it acknowledges is “high”, is partly to pay for ongoing compliance monitoring. If you run a paid-for service in a .new domain, you’ll have to give Google a free account so it can check you’re sticking to your original plan.
It seems Google is going to be fairly strict about usage, which as I’ve previously reported is tied to “action generation or online creation flows”.
What this basically means is that when you type a live .new domain into your browser, you’ll be taken immediately to a page where you can create something, such as a text document, graphic design, auction listing, or blog post.
The only exception to this rule is when the web site needs a user to be logged in and redirects them to a login page instead. Most of the first tranche of registrants are currently doing this.
Google’s own .new domains include doc.new, which takes uses to a fresh sheet of blank paper at Google Docs.
The gTLD’s major anchors tenants have now been revealed at registry web site whats.new, and they include:

  • eBay: type sell.new into your browser address bar and you’ll be taken to a page where you can create a new auction/sales page.
  • Medium: story.new takes you to a blog post creation page.
  • Spotify: create a new music playlist at playlist.new
  • Webex: open up a web conference at webex.new or letsmeet.new.
  • Bitly: create a shortened link at link.new.
  • OVO Sound: this is a record label in the Warner Music stable, founded by Drake. It currently appears to be being used to plug two of OVO’s artists, which I think is a horrible waste of a nice domain. There’s no “content creation” that I can see, and I reckon it could be a prime candidate for deletion unless “listen to this crappy Drake song” counts as “action generation”.

There are a few more anchor tenants publicized at whats.new, but you get the idea.
.new will enter general availability next July.

Google quietly launches .new domains sunrise

Kevin Murphy, October 14, 2019, Domain Registries

Google Registry will allow trademark owners to register domains matching their marks in the .new gTLD from tomorrow.
While the company hasn’t made a big public announcement about the launch, the startup dates it has filed with ICANN show that its latest sunrise period will run from October 15 to January 14.
As previously reported, .new is a bit of a odd one. Google plans to place usage restrictions that require registrants to use the domains in the pursuit of “action generation or online contention creation”.
In other words, it wants registrants to use .new in much the same way as Google is today, with domains such as docs.new, which automatically opens up a fresh Google Docs word processing document when typed into a browser address bar.
From January 14, all the way to July 14, Google wants to run a Limited Registration Period, which will require wannabe registrants to apply to Google directly for the right to register a name.
During that period, registrants will have to that they’re going to use their names in compliance with .new’s modus operandi. It’s Google’s hope that it can seed the space with enough third-party content for .new’s value proposition to become more widely known.
If you’re wanting to pick up a .new domain in general availability, it looks like you’ve got at least nine more months to wait.