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June 19, 2014

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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

.Website Debuts Next Week on a  New gTLD Battlefield That is Getting Bloodier With Each Passing Day  

While the vast majority of new gTLDs being released are aimed at a specific segment of the overall Internet user base (extensions like .club, .photography and .berlin for instance), a relatively small number will try to compete directly on .com's turf as a generic catch-all that 

covers any base. .XYZ and .link are already trying to plow that ground and another one arrives next week when .website debuts with the start of its Sunrise stage for trademark owners on Tuesday, June 24 (their land rush begins August 26 followed by General Availability Sept. 17) . 


.Website comes from the Dubai based Radix Registry that will also be rolling out a number of category specific TLDs like .press (aimed at media outlets) that is following the same launch schedule as .website. While there is not as much competition in the generic TLD space, many believe there is an 800-pound gorilla waiting in the wings, .web, an extension that a lot of prognosticators think will end up being the most popular extension of all. 

Bhavin Turakhia
Radix Registry Founder

So, it will be extremely important for those getting out of the gate first, like .website, to make a big splash and secure a profitable market share before the rest of the crowd arrives and suffocates those that haven't gained traction. 

Radix Founder Bhavin Turakhia (a young entrepreneur who has already achieved enormous success as the Founder of Directi) doesn't appear to be overly concerned about his company's ability to compete.  “We’re very enthusiastic to launch .website, because it’s a strong mass market new gTLD that has immense potential,” Turakhia said, adding  “We’re already working closely with channel partners across the globe who’ve shown keen interest in pioneering the development of the .website extension.”

Still, based on developments over the past week, one of the biggest concerns I would have if I were 

launching a new gTLD  now would be the hit that the perceived value of new TLDs is taking from registries that are dumping tens of thousands of domains free of charge. It started with Network Solutions giving away more than 100,000 .XYZ domains (a figure that continues to climb daily) and continued this week when the .berlin registry gave away tens of thousands more (a giveaway they stopped in mid-stream after questions like this were raised).

Moves like this before the new gTLD era has even had a chance to take root are making it a lot tougher for other registries to make any money on their TLDs. Initially the Land Rush stage gave some of the earlier new gTLDs a chance to recoup some cash with premium prices on some of their best names. However, seeing others give away the store is likely a key reason the new .PUB registry (from Rightside) announced a new pre-registration strategy this week with no premium prices being charged in their Land Rush phase that is currently underway and runs through June 30.

So, for example, if I owned a bar in Sarasota, Florida, as of this writing, I could pre-register Sarasota.pub for $33.00 in my Enom account right now, claiming it at the registrar's standard price before General Availability begins July 9. If I select a name that has already been pre-registered, like Tampa.pub, I get a message saying the name is taken. In most Land Rushes, when more than one person wants a domain it goes to auction. That is not happening here, so it looks like .PUB is living up to its pledge. 

How well this will work for .PUB remains to be seen, but if other registries insist on establishing the value of a new gTLD as $0 at such an early 

stage of the game, those who need to make money now are going to have get very creative to overcome that perception. I know that some are hoping to make their money on the small percentage that renews free domains, or on those they can up sell to services like hosting, but those strategies do nothing to combat the perception of low or, worse, no value for new gTLDs. As the new gTLD battlefield gets more and more crowded it looks like we could see a lot of blood in the streets. 

(Posted June 19, 2014) 

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