• Archive for October, 2008

    ICANN Releases the Draft Applicant Guidebook for New gTLDs

    October 28, 2008 // No Comments »

    On Friday October 24th, 2008, ICANN made publicly available the initial draft of the Applicant Guidebook for new gTLDs. Though only a draft at this point, these initial documents highlight important thinking and direction on the future of new gTLDs, not only by ICANN, but, more importantly, by industry activists and insiders. The complete Applicant Guidebook is expected to be finalized in early 2009. Here are some vital links for anyone who wants to either participate in the discussions or just follow along:

    Applicant Guidebook Main Page: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-comments-en.htm
    Program Draft Applicant Guidebook: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-draft-rfp-24oct08-en.pdf.
    Comments and Discussions: http://forum.icann.org/lists/gtld-guide/

    The Draft Application GuideBook consists of a series of modules:

    Module 1: Introduction to the Application Process
    Provides an overview of the application process, documentation requirements, and fees.

    Module 2: Evaluation Procedures
    Describes the various reviews that occur during the evaluation process and criteria for approval of applications.

    Module 3: Dispute Resolution Procedures
    Contains the grounds for formal objection by third parties concerning gTLD applications submitted, and the dispute resolution procedure triggered by an objection.

    Module 4: String Contention Procedures
    Describes mechanisms for resolving contention when there is more than one qualified applicant for identical or similar gTLD strings.

    Module 5: Transition to Delegation
    Describes the final steps required of an applicant, including execution of a registry agreement and completion of pre-delegation tests.

    Module 6: Terms and Conditions
    Contains the terms and conditions applicable to all entities submitting an application.

    Source: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-comments-en.htm

    Posted in Domains

    Introducing the ideegeo Group!

    October 20, 2008 // No Comments »

    A very close friend of mine and a former colleague, Timo Reitnauer, recently moved to Australia and then onwards to New Zealand, where he became a founder of the ideegeo Group.

    I remember the day I met Timo for the first time.  He had applied for a job at Key-Systems as a Designer.  He made a really good impression and he was a perfect match for the small team at Key-System, so he was hired in June 2002.  After getting the job at Key-Systems, I basically worked hand in hand with Timo for four years.  We sat in the same office and he soon became my right hand. He was an individual you could rely on one hundred percent  At that point in time, I was traveling a lot and reaching out to new business opportunities while still maintaining the reseller channel.  Without Timo, I would not have been able to do both.  He worked very independently and needed little guidance. Basically, he was one of those individuals any company would feel lucky to have.  He was a great asset to Key-Systems and I am sure it was a huge loss when he left Key-Systems to venture to Australia.

    Since Australia, he has moved to New Zealand where he became Co-Founder of the ideegeo Group.

    The ideegeo Group is a New Zealand based provider of technology support services for the domain industry. They manage software research and development and additionally offer consultancy services to domain registrars worldwide. Their team of international experts has an in-depth knowledge of the domain name market and related business models such as hosting, SaaS and web application development.

    Domain registrations are managed through ideegeo’s dedicated sister company 12idn Ltd, a domain registrar specialised in accreditations for ccTLDs particularly with regard to registries which allow the registration of Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs). All technical services are provided by their second subsidiary, domarino. One of the first product offerings of domarino is a trustee services (CED Service) for .ASIA domain names which is available via an API to registrars worldwide.

    One of the more exciting projects they are currently working on is an iPhone application which will be released within the next weeks.
    @Timo: I wish you and your partners the best of success with these ventures. Hope to see you in Vancouver soon!

    Posted in Domains, General, Technology

    Is the market ready for new gTLDs?

    October 16, 2008 // 1 Comment »

    A recent and controversial topic among industry insiders is ICANN’s announcement that they will be opening up the market for new gTLDs (ICANN). On both sides of the coin there are pros and cons. The following is my unbiased view on this important issue:

    Having managed and headed various large registrars over the past eight years, my answer to this question is an emphatic some “yes” and many “no”. I come to this conclusion based on two fundamental principles: First, I do not believe registrars have the will nor money to implement a flood of new TLDs. Second, the common buyer of domain names is already in a state of confusion with the handful of TLDs that exist today; therefore, it makes no sense to think that greater confusion will lead to greater market acceptance.

    Principle 1: Registrar Business and Operational Fundamentals
    From a pure business standpoint, the idea of more TLDs is a no-brainer. More TLDs = more products = more revenue = more profit. That is, assuming that registrars can quickly and cost-effectively integrate, automate, and fund TLD expansion. Hmmmm…can we really assume registrars can integrate, automate, and fund TLD expansion quickly and cost-effectively?

    How about, more products = more development = more support = much more costs. My experience points to the fact that registrars require a lot of resources and time to implement and support new TLDs. So what would happen if thirty new TLDs were launched in one year? I am convinced that not too many registrars will be able to keep up the pace. As a result, registrars will end up picking and choosing some to implement and forgo many, depending on which TLDs they believe can produce the highest return on investment. From a business operations perspective, not more than a handful of TLDs releases, in any given year, is feasible.

    Principle 2: Domain Buyer Knowledge, Sophistication, and Desire
    After hearing, “we have only scratched the surface of the Internet”, repeatedly at conference after conference, I am convinced that the statement is true. If we take this phrase apart a little further, what does it mean? The masses are still just beginning to understand the Internet and its uses. Outside of domain industry circles, how often do you come across people who still don’t know what a domain is or what it is used for? Even the basics that we take for granted like SMTP, IMAP, POP, HTML, and DNS are often a foreign language to most. The idea here is that as users slowly understand and educate themselves, they will in turn participate further in this wonderful thing called the Internet. They may even, possibly, buy a domain name! The key word here is “slowly”!

    To further support my point on the word “slowly”, or, to make it simple, take a look at some interesting moves in the hosting industry: Many are going back to basics, offering very simple products that allow users to create websites in three simple steps. Blogging for example has exploded because creating and maintaining a blog is relatively easy. What is the lesson here? The mass market wants simple and they move much slower than how we want them to move.

    With the number of possible new TLDs being tossed around in the 20 – 400 range, can the average Internet user really understand and desire such a roll out of new TLDs? Introducing too many TLDs at once or in a short time frame will only confuse the market. Moreover, given the state of the economy, users with set budgets will be picky and are likely to spend their hard-earned dollars on the handful of domains they think will provide the best ROI. I personally prefer and believe a gradual introduction of new TLDs to the market provides the needed time to educate users, thus allowing for a strong end-user desire to hatch.

    To investigate my points further, I would be extremely interested in doing a general survey of target users. Honestly, I think many in our industry (especially ICANN) would be intrigued to hear the answers to these simple set of questions:

    a. What is a Top-Level-Domain and which ones do you know?

    b. Did you know that other gTLDs exist besides com, net, org, biz, info, name, asia, mobi, and pro? If yes, name a few?

    c. Have you heard any mention of the following TLD extensions before?
    .aero – [Yes] [No]
    .museum – [Yes] [No]
    .coop – [Yes] [No]
    .travel – [Yes] [No]
    .jobs – [Yes] [No]

    d. Do you know if these TLDs exist? (i.e., TLDs that are not yet applied)
    .family – [Yes] [No]
    .usa – [Yes] [No]
    .blog – [Yes] [No]
    .shop – [Yes] [No]

    Stay tuned for more information to follow.

    Posted in Domains, New TLDs

    Which TLD is right for me?

    October 9, 2008 // No Comments »

    With the volume and variety of TLDs (Top-Level Domains) available to individuals or companies today, I am convinced that most registrants are overwhelmed by selecting the right set of TLDs that they need. “Which TLD is right for me?” is a simple question, but it is a hard question to answer properly.

    Just doing a quick review of gTLDs (generic Top-Level Domains) overseen by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), ccTLDs (country-code Top-Level Domains), and hybrid ccTLDs marketing themselves as gTLDs, it’s clear to see where people can get confused. The first step in answering the question, “Which TLD is right for me?”, must begin with understanding the intended purpose and scope of each TLD. I am providing a quick summary of the most important TLDs to get readers of the blog off on the right footing:

    .asia – “From ASIA – for ASIA”. Introduced in 2007.
    .biz – For businesses. Introduced in 2001.
    .com – For everyone, though intended for commercial registrants. Introduced in 1985.
    .info – For everyone and as a general purpose TLD. Introduced in 2001.
    .mobi – For Mobile content on phones and PDAs. Introduced in 2005.
    .name – For individuals and personal information. Introduced in 2001.
    .net – For everyone, though intended for network providers. Introduced in 1985.
    .org – For everyone, though intended for organizations and not-for-profits. Introduced in 1985

    Source: http://www.icann.org/en/registries/listing.html

    ccTLDs: Two-letter Top-Level Domains designated for a particular country or autonomous territory to facilitate communication and service within the intended community.

    .DE – Deutschland (Germany, managed by DENIC e.G.)
    .UK – United Kingdom (managed by Nominet)
    .BE – Belgium (managed by DNS .BE)
    .CN – China (managed by CNNIC)
    .CA – Canada (managed by CIRA)
    .US – United States of America (managed by NeuStar)
    The entire list can be viewed under IANA.

    ccTLDs being marketed differently than as a regular ccTLD:

    .WS (ccTLD of Western Samoa) is currently being marketed as an extension for a WebSite.
    .TV (ccTLD of Tuvalu) is being marketed for online and television media.
    .ME (ccTLD of Montenegro) is being marketed as a personal domain for individuals including call-to-action domains such as lookat.me, chatwith.me, buy.me, sell.me, etc.

    Now that we all understand the intended purpose for each TLD, the next step in building the right domain portfolio is asking yourself the standard WHO, WHAT and WHEN:

    WHO do you want to reach? WHO is your target group?
    A. Local users only – a ccTLD would obviously be your first choice unless you live in the United States where .com is generally still more popular than a .US.
    B. Local users mainly and lightly servicing your global region (North America, Asia, Europe) – a ccTLD plus .com (possibly .net and .info also) with strong consideration for .asia or .eu if you are servicing those areas.
    C. International users – a ccTLD and a set of gTLDs to protect your brand (.com, .net, .info and .org) plus, possibly, .biz, .asia, and .eu for extra brand defense.
    D. Friends and family only – .info or .me or both are good choices.

    WHAT is the purpose of the domain?
    A. Personal Use – .info or .me are best for pictures of family, friends, weddings, newborns, or communicating with close relations.
    B. Blogging – .info and .com are best suited for sharing your thoughts or to stimulate online discussions.
    C. Commercial – follow the instructions for WHO mentioned above.
    D. Domain Speculation and Traffic Monetization – any TLD, especially new TLDs like .me or the upcoming .tel. The king of all domains, however, is still .com. As .com’s name space is being exhausted, good domains become harder to find as well as increase in value.

    WHEN is it best to register the domains you want?
    It is best to register all the TLDs recommended above today for one year and let the traffic dictate which ones you drop or renew. With the growing number of domain opportunists and new businesses being created, the cost of purchasing or recovering a lost domain is extremely costly and time consuming, if not impossible at times.

    Posted in Domains