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You thought TLD meant Top Level Domain? Well not on this page! This is Domain Name Journal's version of TLD - The Lowdown -  filling you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry!
July - August 2004 Archive

SnapNames.com has switched to an auction format. Effective August 9, the drop catching pioneer switched to an auction system similar to those used by major competitors like Pool.com, Namewinner.com and Enom's Club Drop. Previously, if you were the first one to claim a subscription on an expiring name you just paid a flat $69 fee and got the name if SnapNames was successful in acquiring it. There will no longer be a fee to place orders at SnapNames, however if they succeed in getting a domain, those who have preordered it will participate in an auction to determine who gets the domain (with the final price being determined by the highest bid to ... The Mexico Tourism Board has lost its attempt to take Mexico.com away from a client of well-known domain attorney Ari Goldberger. In a UDRP decision handed down August 9, the panel ruled that the Tourism Board (majority owned by the government of Mexico) was engaged in a reverse hijacking attempt. This is the third time Goldberger has successfully defended attempts to take country domains away from his clients (others were NewZealand.com and PuertoRico.com). To our knowledge those are the only three UDRP decision handed down involving .com country domains...BuyDomains is aiming to take a share of the free email market from industry giants Microsoft, Yahoo and Google. The company has announced the rollout of SEEQMail, a free service offering 150MB of storage, more than 130 URL's to choose from (as opposed to 1 for Hotmail, Yahoo and GMail), anti-virus security and several other features. In a unique new twist that will appeal to many, you can even use your own domain name and still take advantage of the SEEQMail feature set... Rumors are flying that Verisign is close to giving up on trying to get its controversial Wait List Service (WLS) approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Instead there is talk they will try to get their hands on a hunk of the increasing revenues in the expiring domain market by charging registries a small fee each time they query Verisign's servers during the daily drop while trying to catch expiring names (thousands of these requests are made each second during the drop period). These would be micropayments, but they would add up to big bucks if the scheme is put into practice for the .com and .net names managed by Verisign. Too early to say how much this would effect the fees dropcatchers charge customers to go after names... We have written a lot about ripoff registrars but there is at least one registry that is worse that the worst registrars we've shined a spotlight on. For newcomers, a registry manages an entire top level extension (the letters to the right of the dot) while a registrar is one of many companies who sell registrations in the various extensions to the public. Website.ws, a site run by the managers of Samoa's .WS extension, earn first prize for price gouging above and beyond the call of duty. If you make the mistake of registering a domain there, then decide to sell, you will find yourself hit with a $100 ownership transfer fee (no charge virtually everywhere else) that isn't disclosed anywhere on their site when you register a domain. And that isn't even the worst of it. If you paid $70 for a two-year registration (the minimum they allow) they will also cancel the registration period (with no refund) and make the new owner pay again for something .WS was already paid for! Again, not even any fine print on their site about this predatory practice! To avoid it, if you are going to register a .WS domain, register it somewhere like GoDaddy where it costs about $10 (as opposed to $35 annually at website.ws) and where  there are none of the extortionate transfer fees...  Enom's Club Drop is making a big move in the drop catching arena. Seemingly overnight, the service's roster of partner registrars has soared from just a couple to 25. With that much firepower chasing expiring domains each day you will undoubtedly see Club Drop's success rate soar. Perhaps most encouraging, Club Drop author Christopher Ambler says the service will make sure their affiliated registrars deliver good customer service. Registrar problems have created a ton of headaches for customers at some of the other drop catching services (see next item)... Some relief may finally be on the horizon for domain buyers who are fed up with the multitude of incompetent registrars that now plague the industry.  Many of these back alley outfits have been enlisted by the various drop catching services to increase their chances of catching dropping domains. The problem is that once the domain is caught the customer who paid a pretty penny for it often finds himself stuck with a foreign registrar with no English site (or even no site at all), or at a previously unheard of company that has no domain management interface, refuses to provide login information and ignores emails. It is not at all uncommon for a buyer to wait months just to get access to a domain they purchased!  If you do finally get access to your domain, odds are they will make it next to  impossible for you to transfer out. Most of these registrars operate in blatant violation of ICANN rules but go unpunished. ICANN has now announced a new set of rules will take affect November 12 aimed at stopping these and other registrar abuses. The critical question is will the rules be enforced this time or will these ICANN-accredited outlaws continue to thumb their noses at the governing body? Read more on this topic in our current Editorial... The total number of .US registrations leapt by 92,000 in just two days July 14 & 15, startling even the staunchest fans of America's country code domain. That is about 50 times more than the usual number of .US registrations in a 48-hour time frame. Well-known .US investor Dan Stager's inquiry to the registry revealed that the bulk of those domains were registered at a single registrar back in April and the nameservers were just added to the zone file this month. The new additions push total .US regs over the 850,000 mark. Meanwhile, .biz has gone back above the 1 million mark after briefly falling below that level. .Info continues to have the most registrations among the new extensions, over 1.2 million, but it also had a head start, debuting 2 months before .biz and 7 months before .US... Rick Schwartz (AKA The Domain King) has signed a unique licensing agreement to share his eRealEstate.com web address with a real world real estate company. Visitors now see a welcome page that has a link to residential real estate on the left and a link to Schwartz's well-known virtual real estate site on the right. We think it is a very clever marketing move that further reinforces the similarities (and substantial values) shared by these two property classes... SnapNames.com has pulled the plug on their reseller program. Effective Tuesday, July 13, the drop catching company stopped taking new orders from partner sites like Snaps.com, CheapSnaps.com and FastSnaps.com.  Any subscriptions that are still open in early August will be moved to the main SnapNames site. The affiliates had offered a lower price than the main site but allowed only 3 Snapback exchanges per order (the full-priced subscriptions at SnapNames.com come with unlimited exchanges). In a letter to their resellers SnapNames said they had actually been losing money on every order and should have discontinued the program some time ago... Higher prices aren't the only sign of an ongoing domain business boom.  New forums related to domain industry discussion are also popping up left and right to feed what seems to be an insatiable appetite for industry information. The latest forums to go online are NameMatters.com and DomainPost.com. With a lot of sites vying for attention in the forum space, it will be interesting to see what the various venues do to differentiate themselves from their competitors...Dodora has at least temporarily been stopped in their tracks by a Texas court order. The operations of  the registrar have been frozen and a court-appointed receiver, Michael Bernstein, has taken control of the firm's assets. A notice about the receivership action has been posted on the Dodora.com home page. However, Dodora CEO Ron Garraud told us the story is far from over. Dodora is planning to commence litigation again several parties that Garraud says are responsible for creating the current situation... USA Today has added more fuel to the domain boom fire. In an article published June 29, the nationally distributed newspaper talked about the role played by small business in igniting a turnaround that has been underway for several months now. DNJournal.com is quoted in the article along with GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and Network Solutions CEO Champ Mitchell... BuyDomains.com has opened an ambitious new search portal network, SEEQ Networks at Seeqnet.com. BuyDomains COO Michelle Miller said SEEQ combines new domain keyword mapping technology and a network of more than 20 interest and topic-based portals, enabling advertisers to reach extremely targeted audiences. The network includes portals devoted to investment, education, music and travel to name just a few. The more than 325,000 domains owned by BuyDomains are part of the network. If a surfer types in one of those names they are taken to a portal determined by keywords in the domain name.  Each of the SEEQ Network portals scan the Internet, aggregate content-specific news and information and assemble it in one site. This enables people to  easily access information that is relevant to their interests. Miller said that in turn allows advertisers to reach audiences targeted more accurately than eve before because SEEQ delivers two more levels of context filtering than the current paid search engine ad networks...Enom has opened it's Club Drop service to the general public. Prior to July 1 you had to be an Enom reseller to bid in the company's expiring domain auctions. Now all you need is a free Enom account. Club Drop seems to be getting more effective as well. They caught ambient.com and sold it for $22,000 July 1...Germans love .info but when it comes to the new global TLDs Americans prefer .biz according to statistics at Webhosting.info. In a pair of charts that show .info and .biz registrations broken down by country, the .biz chart shows Americans have registered 577,324 .biz domains, about 73,000 more than the number of  .infos they have taken (503,870 according to the site's .info chart). In contrast, Germans prefer .info almost 3 to 1. They have registered 314,764 .infos compared to only 108,672 .biz domains. As of early July, .info also had the edge worldwide with over 1.2 million total registrations, compared to just under 1 million .biz. To be fair, .info had a bit of head start. It was introduced to the public in September 2001 while .biz didn't get out of the gate until November of that year. Thanks to Ghuzz (a resident of Turkey) who tipped us off to the new stats in a thread at the DomainState forum... Progress in continuing on the Traffic 2004 domain conference coming up Oct. 20-23 in Delray Beach, Florida (additional information on this event  is located in another item below). Organizer Rick Schwartz has announced nationally known speaker Ben Stein has agreed to be the keynote speaker. Schwartz told us "I am trying to limit the conference to 150 attendees so it will be big enough to be meaningful but small enough for lots of 1 on 1 discussions and deal making. That won't be true of future years and that is why this trade show will be a benchmark in domain history"


More in the Lowdown Archive!

May-June 2004  -   April 2004   -   March 2004   


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