2014-09-29

Most New gTLD Domain Names Are On Life-Support, Infecting Other gTLDs

There's barely a heart beat in most of the new gTLDs that have already launched and been in GA (general availability) for at least 90 days. Who at ICANN thought it was a good idea to go from 22 gTLDs to over 1,300? Oh yeah, ICANN's Chief Strategy Officer and "architect of the new gTLDs program" who had a "conflict of interest" (particulars still undisclosed) and now heads up an industry lobbying group with other new gTLD sycophants, and then we have a former Chairman of the ICANN Board of Directors who left the Board right after the vote approving the new gTLDS program to go to work for the parent company of a new gTLD registry applicant. And I am just scratching the surface of all of the conflicts of interest at ICANN that led to the approval of the new gTLDs program. See: Domain Names Industry, ICANN, Regulatory Capture . And now, not only are most of the new gTLDs committing hara-kiri right in front of our eyes, they have "infected" .NET, .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ, .MOBI with their disease--the red numbers (net loss in domain name registrations) I see almost every day--they are impossible not to notice, unless, of course, you work at ICANN or are one of the new gTLD "true-believers" still living in the Land of Denial--folks this isn't just a "slow start"--this is a massive train wreck with bodies lying everywhere. For example, when I looked at the report for September 27, 2014, on RegistrarStats.com, of the top 10 gTLDs, I found most had a net loss in registrations as indicated in the extension names in red below:

COM
NET - net loss
ORG - net loss
INFO - net loss
BIZ - net loss
MOBI - net loss

XYZ
ASIA
NAME - net loss
BERLIN 


And of course, .BERLIN, and .XYZ are new gTLDs--just wait till next year when renewals start coming due, for the first time for the new gTLDs that have launched--you will see massive hemorrhaging, and ICANN will, simultaneously, still be flooding the market with even more new gTLDs! This is going to get real UGLY! Hey Fadi and Akram--make a note--increasing supply does NOT increase demand. At this rate, in just a few years, the 4 largest TLDs in the world will be .COM followed by 3 ccTLDs: .de (Germany), .uk (United Kingdom),  and .cn (China) [I don't count .tk--it's free and has a "bad reputation"]. For all of the hullaballoo what will ICANN and the new gTLDs have accomplished? Made .COM and the ccTLDs even more dominant. Brilliant! 

If ICANN had any integrity left, it would push the emergency "stop button" on the new gTLDs program, and offer to make full refunds to all new gTLD applicants. But of course, we all know about ICANN's "ethics problems."

So what's a start-up, end user, or domain investor to do? Well for domain name portfolio owners and/or managers, you might want to dump everything except your .COM and ccTLD domain names (actually, looking at the numbers on RegistrarStats.com every day, it looks you guys are already doing that--remember Jeremy Irons' line from Margin Call: “If you're first out the door, that's not called panicking.”). But at a minimum, stay in the good neighborhoods--.COM and the well-run ccTLDs (if you live outside the US)--there's safety in numbers. Avoid almost everything else--particularly most of the new gTLDs--you don't want to hang out in "bad neighborhoods" with low traffic, low adoption numbers, shady operators, etc.  Remember, the renewal prices of all of these new gTLDs are totally within the arbitrary control of the respective registry, not ICANN. Check out who's running the registry of that new gTLD--are they engaged in "questionable practices?" Read the Registry terms, documents, and contracts before investing or you may be very surprised when renewal fees come due--I hope you don't build your business on a new gTLD domain name that costs $30,000 annually to renew after the first 2 years!

Based on just what we know thus far, if ICANN was held to the standards of a publicly-held corporation listed on a major US stock exchange, the US Department of Commerce, NTIA, should have already de-listed it, i.e., terminated its contract for incompetence and ineptness in managing the DNS. But instead, the Obama administration wants to turn EVERYTHING over to ICANN to run with no oversight at all--ideas this bad can only come from Washington, D.C.--of course, knowing how incompetent the U.S. government is (really, how do you spend over half a billion dollars building just one website that doesn't even work?), are we surprised?

Finally, what should ICANN have done about launching new gTLDs? If ICANN was so anxious to launch some new gTLDs, it should have selected for removal (retirement) from the root zone those old legacy gTLDs which had low adoption rates, and before selecting ANY new gTLDs, done the necessary "due diligence"-- extensive polling, research on market demand, consumer preferences, etc. ICANN should have selected as registry operators only people like the guys running .CLUB (they are building a nice, solid, niche gTLD which looks like it will be OK unless, of course, it also gets infected by ICANN's new gTLDs' disease before this whole ICANN-created disaster is over). Remember, ICANN is supposed to be coordinating and managing the DNS in the public interest, for the global internet community, not just be a glorified clerk and administrator for wanna be new gTLD registry operators who are able to write a check, made payable to "ICANN," for $185,000 per new gTLD. See ICANN Process for New gTLDs Dysfunctional -- from the beginning. After all, this is called Internet Governance.

ICANN would be doing itself, and all of us, a big favor if it engraved on the wall of every room, in its many, multiplying hubs and offices throughout the world (particularly the Board of Directors meeting room), the following: KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid!

Looks like Jon Postel had it about right back in 1994"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."

I'm sure old Jon is rolling over in his grave--on the other hand, seeing what's now happening to most of the new gTLDs--maybe he's exacting vengeance:

"Postel's Law is a clever bit of social engineering. Also known as the Robustness Principle, it goes like this: Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others. Postel addressed this advice to the engineers who built the early Internet from scratch, an arrogant bunch. To such a crowd the underlying message is:
I'm sure you're going to get this right, but you'll have to interoperate with the implementations of others with lower standards. Do you really want to deal with those fools? Better to silently fix up their mistakes and move on."




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