2014-08-25

Are Domain Names Dinosaurs?

Google Trends - Web Search interest: domain name - Worldwide, 2004 - present:
graphic of Domain Name Google Search Trend 2004-present
"Domain Name" - Google Search Trend 2004-present 
Having questioned from the beginning all the hype and hokum that accompanied ICANN's new gTLD domain name extensions program, for example, how about this headline: Dawn of a New Internet Era by ICANN's Akram Atallah--no hyperbole there!--it's hard not to engage in a little schadenfreude at this point. The disappointing new gTLD registration numbers (particularly after you throw out the registry land grabs, the free domain name giveaways, the purely defensive registrations, and rampant cybersquatting) are self-evident. Even some of the biggest new gTLD cheerleaders in the domaining sphere are beginning to question the whole thing: here's a recent domainer blog headline: New TLDs: is it an awareness, acceptance or demand issue?

And for those affiliated with the new gTLD registry operators, stress and desperation have now come into full view. One has even resorted to advertising on a LA public transit bus (BTW the farthest thing from sexy in LA is a public transit bus--I know, I've lived there). What's next, advertising new gTLD domain names in public restrooms? LOL! Maybe we are beginning to get an idea of what Akram really meant by "Dawn of a New Internet Era."

The sad thing is the new gTLD proponents "don't get it" and never have. Most are hopelessly lost in their outdated ways of thinking. It's 2014 people! The poor unfortunates trapped on the new gTLDs bus apparently think .COM is their great enemy, that if ONLY they could tear down and destroy .COM, their problems would all go away. What they don't understand is that .COM is not their competition. .COM is in a different class altogether than the new gTLD domain name extensions. In the domain name marketplace, new gTLDS are competing in the second tier domain name space which is dominated by .NET, .ORG and ccTLDs. And even more challenging, domain names altogether are increasingly irrelevant. Need a web page? Facebook or Google or Amazon or Tumblr or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest (and many, many others) will gladly provide you a web page with its own distinct URL, on an easy to use platform with lots of traffic, accessible on any device, including mobile devices through a native app, all for free! So the real competition for new gTLDS are Facebook et al, and apps--a "Billion-Dollar Trend" that alone is a major domain name killer--

Billion-Dollar Trends - Business Insider: "... Chris Dixon argues that people have basically stopped using the mobile Web and now exclusively use apps..." [Note to the new gTLDs' promoters--it's a waste of time and money to tell people to use "http://____.newgTLD" on their iPhones (because the Safari browser won't navigate to new gTLD domain names otherwise)--consumers aren't going there anyway, they are on their apps, plus using "http://___" on the side of a bus in 2014 looks stupid! Where have you been living the past 10 years, some remote island?]

With native apps, a website is optional for developers, they can just list the app on the app store--

The decline of the mobile web | chris dixon's blog: "... Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues. Most worrisome: they reject entire classes of apps without stated reasons or allowing for recourse... Sadly, this is where we’re headed on mobile...."

And for most app makers, the news is getting worse--

Most smartphone users download zero apps per month - Quartz: "Almost all smartphone owners use apps, and a “staggering 42% of all app time spent on smartphones occurs on the individual’s single most used app,” comScore reports" (see also the 25 most popular mobile apps in America).

So who needs a website, or particularly, who needs a new gTLD domain name website? If it's direct navigation you are seeking, or a recognized, trusted domain name you want, most people know a .COM domain name is best--the "gold standard"--(or if you are outside the U.S. and only seek a national audience, then a ccTLD might do). See: Why dot com will always be the gold standard of domain names - YouTube

Final note: is it really that hopeless for the mobile Web? Well, there is something coming, but it won't save the new gTLDs. Nothing will save the new gTLDs--most will fail. Why? Because the whole new gTLDs process was dysfunctional, driven by greed and conflicts of interest, without any consideration of demand, need, or the public interest. Even Jon Postel, by himself, would have done a better job than ICANN with new gTLDs. What would Jon have done? Well it depends. Jon wrote in 1994: "In the Domain Name System (DNS) naming of computers there is a hierarchy of names. The root of system is unnamed. There are a set of what are called "top-level domain names" (TLDs). These are the generic TLDs (EDU, COM, NET, ORG, GOV, MIL, and INT), and the two letter country codes from ISO-3166. It is extremely unlikely that any other TLDs will be created." Later, John Gilmore said, "Jon’s initial design would have expanded to dozens of TLDs long before ICANN, and increased them by 50 or 100 a year until demand slacked off" (source: It’s time for ICANN to go - Salon.com July 2002). Demand? Jon was thinking about real demand--from actual domain name registrants who wanted to build something, not cybersquatters or speculators nor wholesale speculation and pre-emptive registration of thousands of domain names by registry-registrar operators or affiliates. It is obvious in the wanton expansion from just 22 gTLDs to more than 1000 gTLDs in just a few months, ICANN didn't really think about any of this nor many other things, or just didn't care. After all, as has been noted, when it comes to ICANN and the new gTLDs, it's all about the money.

ClaimICANN New gTLDs: "One of ICANN's key commitments is to promote competition in the domain name market while ensuring Internet security and stability."

Fact: ICANN has damaged the competitive domain name marketplace, and degraded Internet security and stability, by its incompetent and irresponsible flooding of the domain name ecosystem with more than 1000 new gTLDs [see ICANN: "the internet will explode"].


--John Poole, Domain Mondo





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