Sunday, September 20, 2015

Which new gTLD would I apply for in Round 2?

I have the chance to study new domain name registration figures every week and I can note the progress of every extensions: some keep progressing, some don't and probably won't anymore and some behave in a very strange way.

An unexpected Round One
One would have expected the ICANN process to apply to be simple, efficient and fast but it was not and one would have expected to be alone to apply for a generic string...but it was not. Low registration volumes are the result of ICANN's first try to allow anyone interested to acquire his own domain name extension. Lesson is now learnt for coming Round two.

When numbers look like they are wrong
Once a week - each Wednesday - I publish registration volumes of new domain names on (in French). I do this for domain name extensions which mean something in French and ".city" new gTLDs. I use three colors:
  1. Black is used to write each domain name extension and its number of registered domain names that week;
  2. Blue is when the increase should be noticed;
  3. Red is when the number of registrations decreases from previous week.
Doing this once a week allows me to see when something changes at a Registry and I noticed a few things:
  1. Some new registries to have been the first to launch had good registration figures but not anymore: some can stay in red for several weeks (which means registration volumes decrease);
  2. Some had an impressive launch (giving away domain names maybe) and clearly dived in the red after year one. They are now stagnating. Some keep giving domain names;
  3. Some have very low registration figures but they increase slowly, even after year one of registration;
  4. Many dotCITY domain name extensions are constant: even after year one, I don't remember them ever changing to red;
  5. Some had a very good launch, are constant, and keep developing like the .CLUB registry.

What I call "normal" and what I call ".crap"
When domain name extensions "mean" something, when Registrars talk about them to their customers and when the Registry is active promoting them, I believe we have a key to success and registration volumes clearly demonstrate that. On the other hand, some very descriptive domain name extensions have a poor communication but their registration volumes increase slowly but they keep increasing.
Here is an example of what I call "normal": registration volumes increase at the end of a Sunrise Period because domain name "open to all"; most of the time they decrease after one year of existence when it comes to renewing a domain name by the owner (the Registrant) but they stabilize again. During holidays, I noticed there are less registrations. When a major Registrar promotes a domain name extensions on its front page, registrations volumes slightly increase.

Of course, no one wants to read what I call ".crap" but I like to write that all new Registries are not cheaters: and by the way, what is cheating? Is it registering domains names for yourself or through a third party to demonstrate that your domain name registration volumes increase (and so, show your domain names are installing)? Is it giving domain names?
From one week to another, I sometimes notice that the volume of domain names doubles, triples or sometimes multiplies by...much more for one single TLD (Top-Level Domains). I once wrote to a Registry to ask about this sudden change...but he never answered my email. Actually, this does not bother me if it brings end users to notice that these new domain names exist: it is still very early for adopters to consider new domain names.

Does it matter if new Registries cheat?
Does it matter to the end user if a new gTLD Registry gives Registrants domain names without their consent? Does it matter if Registries own their own Registrar to offer Registrants the best price on earth to register a domain name? Does it matter if a TLD is sold like it is the most secured extension on earth? Does it matter if the ICANN forgot to include specific protection mechanisms for special TLDs? Is there a rule to promote a domain name to a worldwide market? There is I guess this is not called cheating: let's call it marketing.
The funny thing about this is that the Registrant - the only one NOT represented at ICANN meetings - is king: he is the one to decide. Whatever imagination new Registries have to install their domain name doesn't really matter because end-users don't care: what matters to them is to be satisfied. If the meaning offered by new domain name extensions matches their need or if it matches what they want to express through the name of their website, then I call it a success.

The surprise of September 2015
One will wonder why Google decided to use a ".xyz" domain name: was it because the name of its company was "Alphabet" or just because ".xyz" domains are new and cool? Or was it because ".xyz" is the best string to define a company named "Alphabet"? My personal choice goes to that last answer but whatever my choice is, what matters is that ".xyz" domains are starting to be adopted.

In which new gTLDs I believe:
There are news gTLD strings in which I believe more than others. The problem is that there are so many! I check registration volumes every week and I can tell one thing for sure: I am not wrong with my choices and here is my short list:
  • ".SURF" is really cool: surfers have passion and would I be so passionated for a sport/lifestyle, I'd definitely adopt a ".surf" domain name for my website and more than this: for my email. Also: "a surf is a surf".
  • ".EMAIL": an email ending in ".email" offers information about the writer:  the reader will notice precision. Using a ".email" domain name is also an opportunity to terminate years of spam received by the domain name originally used and change to something new. Note here that migrating emails and doing the transition should be organized. Note also that not all servers and forms accept new domain names so when the email is bounced back, you definitely need an "option 2".
  • ".CLUB" is the best identity any club on earth could have: it covers many languages (almost all of them), it is short and open enough to be used by fans, by discotheques and by many sports. And guess what: "a club is a club".
  • ".PARIS". Come on: how better can you introduce a website when your business focusses on the city of lights? By the way, did you know that "paris" means "bets"?
  • ".BUZZ" rocks: the word is international and allows to introduce an information in multiple languages. We use the word quite a lot in French too.
  • ".SHOP": I wondered if ".boutique" would do the same job as ".shop" but "shop" not only is a short word but it introduces the acceptance to spend money: you know you will spend money if you navigate on a website for shopping.
  • ".CASINO": the "casino" sign does not match real casinos only; the word is known by anybody, it is international and is a perfect match for online casinos too.
  • ".COACH": a coach with no ".coach" is no real Coach anymore. 
  • Any TLD related to sports is the only match to describe the Sport, isn't it? I like ".GOLF" a lot.
  • ".BLOG": a blogger will understand why I like that one, it is short and worldwide: perfectly adapted to multiple subjects.
  • ".VOTE" and ".VOTO": if these two can help voters to identify where to vote online, not only it could encourage governments to develop voting websites but it could encourage voters to go voting: I want a "pré" (with an accent please).
  • ".GLOBAL" is nice, it is an alternative to ".com" for any company who wants to show innovation and change to something new (keeping and redirecting its ".com");
  • ".PHOTO": the singular version of the TLD covers the photography universe: it is simple and easily understandable, even if not written the same way in some Latin languages. the string "photo" can also be an alternative to photo blogs.
  • ".PIZZA": I don't know what to write here but I like that one. I'd buy if I was in that business. If pizzaiolos needed websites, this TLD would be the perfect match. Let's hope domain names can make pizzaiolos to use Internet: I want to receive an email ending in ".pizza".
  • ".RESTAURANT": it does not cover all languages and it is long but it is very descriptive and it covers French; and French is a sign of quality. You can't miss such a long domain name when finding the result on Google: it is an eye catcher. 
  • ".RIP": it is negative but ".rip" domain names are the only descriptive alternative for a grave online. The concept is far too new to be adopted by end-users but this is the future of 
  • ".VIN":  I really wonder why some American Company applied for ".WINE" too ;-)
  • I like ".SITE" and ".WEBSITE" but one kills the precision of the other and ".ONLNE" does not help which one to choose...
  • I like ".TAXI" for independent taxis and ".SOCIAL" for online communities. If I was to change the domain name for Facebook, I'd use
  • ".FORUM" and ".GAME" are coming, I think these will be adopted too.
  • ".AFRICA": I don't know anybody using a ".ASIA" domain name and I know very few using a ".EU" but ".AFRICA" is a domain name I would want to adopt to show my belonging to this continent.  
  • ".TRANSLATIONS": I would have bought as a translator. Every translator (more or less) speaks English and it was the only domain name extension dedicated to translation. I see a similar project coming in Round two of the ICANN new gTLD program.
Now Round one is finished, I guess a word should be said about those strings I wouldn't buy a domain name from: plural TLDs, and generic TLDs which could mean more than one thing. I wouldn't buy a ".sale" domain name: it means "dirty" in French. I don't read IDNs so I am not buying neither but if I was a (International?) Trademark, I'd definitely consider registering a ".商标" domain name: it means "trademark" in Chinese. I would register in the Trademark Clearinghouse too.

Which new gTLDs would I apply for in Round Two?
Last time I spoke about .WINE, it (probably) gave ideas to other applicants so I am not answering that one and my list will be kept safe until a reasonable player wants to discuss it. I believe in :
  1. niche TLDs with a strong meaning;
  2. city TLDs;
  3. short TLDs but not necessarily: a TLD like the ".accountant" offers a lot of precision;
  4. niche TLDs whose industry is connected to (or relies on) the Internet and there are still many to submit an application for in the second round of the ICANN new gTLD program;
  5. sports TLDs which not yet have been applied for at ICANN... 

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