Domain Name Drama
This past week has been flooded with reactions to Uniregistry´s hefty price increase on some of their domain extensions. Many industry people are commenting with anger, frustration and even predictions on what this may lead to for the domain industry as a whole.
I think the frustration and criticism is partially justified. I believe that the negative effects that the price increase may have on existing customers needs to be limited to as large a degree as possible. Predictability and stability is of the utmost importance in the internet infrastructure industry, especially at this time. Therefore, drastic price changes should be avoided and impacts mitigated as much as possible. The fact that GoDaddy chose to (temporarily?) withdraw its support for new registrations and transfers related to the affected domain extensions sends a message to all registries. That said, it should also be considered that Uniregistry´s decision might be the lesser of two evils, and that it is “better” making these kinds of changes sooner rather than later. After all, we are still in the early days of the name space that the new domain extensions represent.
However, when it comes to the impact that the price increase may have with regards to future volume and new customers, I think Uniregistry is making a businesswise well-motivated decision in increasing prices on the domain extensions with a narrow market. It was not easy to predict the correct price levels back in 2013 and 2014, which is when many of the launches of new extensions took place.
ARE WE DOOMED?
Critics to the new domain extensions are now crawling out of the woodwork to doom the new extensions as dead or soon to be. I believe the criticism is deserved for one registry failing in providing the expected stability when it comes to pricing. The impact of Uniregistry´s price hike is quite limited for our market, where almost all domain extensions have held stable price models. The new domain extensions are here to stay and are being used by both large and small brands. I haven’t heard of customers being unhappy about their choice to be modern and innovative when branding themselves on the new domain extensions. On the contrary, owners that went live with new domain extensions have had much positive feedback when asked.
The number of internet users and the amount of online content is growing faster than ever so it is crucial that there are available domain names both for commercial and noncommercial use. Innovations and startups need domain names, and far from all can have their desired .com domain name.
If you see the internet from a US standpoint, it’s quite natural to think of .com as the only domain extension of any importance, since most US brands never really adopted the country domain (.us) that was launched for the US. However, when it comes to the rest of the world, it is often more important to be branded with country specific domain extensions. This is why it seems less radical to non-US organizations and individuals to be exposed to domains ending with something other than .com.
Furthermore, as a brand grows and domain portfolio building becomes increasingly important both for intellectual property protective purposes and to enable expansion, domains on many different extensions are both needed and wanted. A well-rounded domain name portfolio allows the brand to direct Internet users to certain desired content, whether it be country or service/product specific. New domain extensions can thereby serve both as great additions to, or often alternatives to, traditional .com domain names.
If you read this, you are most likely in the domain industry. I sincerely hope that we can drop the drama and exaggerations when we criticise, and focus on good arguments and support instead.
I am a part of a company that proudly operates the new domain extension .GLOBAL. And for what it’s worth, I can confirm that we do not plan or have ever discussed the possibility of a price increase.