Contrary to government’s opinion, .website domains will give a boost to .ws.
The government of the State of Samoa submitted early warnings on top level domain applications for the .website string.
So what’s Samoa upset about?
The country of 200,000 people has the .ws country code. Over the years it has tried to market this as being short for “web site”.
That has mostly been a failure.
Still, it claims .website is confusingly similar to .ws.
We are writing to urge ICANN to reject any application to release the top-‐level domain .website. Any such release will conflict with our top-level domain, .ws, which will cause significant economic harm to the Independent State of Samoa (“Samoa”) (formerly known as Western Samoa).
Samoa has this one wrong — the release of a .website address would be the greatest thing to ever happen to the .ws extension.
I have to admit that I got suckered into registering some of these .ws domains early on. It was just too tempting, what with single keyword domains expiring and not being snapped up immediately. You could literally go to the registry’s web site, see what had just expired, and go register it.
But the domains have basically been worthless. The most I’ve been offered on one was around $300. They’re also a pain because, at least for a while, you couldn’t transfer them between registrars. The whois information was also populated with the registrar’s contact info. (It appears you can now transfer between registrars. Transferring to another person comes with a $100 transfer fee, according to the FAQs at Website.ws. I suppose that having the whois in the registrar’s name could enable a transfer without this fee.)
So why is the introduction of .website the best thing to happen to .ws since it was commercialized?
If .website takes off, .ws is the perfect shortcut for these domains. If I owned a .website domain, I’d certainly try to register the equivalent .ws domain. I’d use it as a URL shortener, and also market it as a faster way to get to my .website URL.
I still don’t see a huge market opportunity for .ws domains, but .website certainly won’t hurt it.