The launch of new domain names has been anything but smooth.
Confusion. Frustration. Incompetence.
That’s how I’d sum up the launch of new TLDs so far.
I’ve already written about some of the challenges of new TLD launches to date. How they’re coming out with a whimper. How domain name registrars are making it difficult to register these new domain names.
Kevin Murphy over at Domain Incite has more examples today in a post titled “Registrars screwing up new gTLD launches?”
Yes, registrars are dropping the ball. But registries are making it difficult for them, too.
Change your entire business model
Imagine going to Bentonville in an effort to sell Walmart on carrying your new type of cereal. Actually many new types of cereal.
You don’t just want shelf space, you tell them. You want them to try a completely new pricing scheme that changes over time. They’ll be forced to use your new type of ordering software. Oh, and you’d like a deposit, please.
It sounds ridiculous, but that’s what a lot of registries are telling registrars.
Case in point: if I were a registrar, I wouldn’t touch .wed with a ten foot pole. Apparently most registrars agree.
I get that the registrar model might seem old and stale. But if you want to make money with your new TLD today, you’re going to have to live with it. Get user adoption now and worry about innovation later. Otherwise your “innovation” will end up in the trash pile anyway.
Ready! Fire! Aim!
Last week’s royal screw up award goes to Donuts, which accidentally allowed people to register domain names it wasn’t allowed to register: eco. and 00.
Eco is on the temporarily-protected list of IGOs.
It’s still being debated how to handle the IGO list. At the end of the day I have no doubt consumers will be able to register eco at the second level.
We also have a fluid situation around name collisions, which has forced registries to hold back thousands of some of the best possible second level registrations.
The crazy thing is over a hundred new TLD contracts have been assigned and dozens of new TLDs delegated while the community still tries to figure this out.
Look, if I were Donuts I’d also push my domains to market as soon as possible. If you raised $100 million you’d feel the need to start showing results, too. You’d want to beat others to the race even if you have one bum ankle.
But an outside observer would question the sanity of signing contracts that say key terms can be changed later. They’d expect the key terms to be figured out first.
Pay attention to term 4.5.2, exhibit A, and attachment C.
Have you read your registrar’s Domain Name Registration Agreement or Terms of Service lately? Have fun.
The section of GoDaddy’s registration agreement with specific provisions for different TLDs covers 32 pages single spaced when I copy and paste it in Microsoft Word. That doesn’t include the additional content found in the 67 hyperlinks in the section.
Options, Options, Options
So you want to register a .coffee domain name? Great, I’ve got lots of options for you.
Pre-registration, non-binding pre-registration, paid pre-registration, reservation, registry-guaranteed priority registration, landrush, sunrise, sunblock (I just coined that term for trademark blocking services), EAP day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5.
Oh, but nevermind. I can’t sell you that domain. It’s on the name collision list. Oh, this one is actually a premium priced domain. This generic term can’t be registered due to a trademark block.
Don’t understand each option and how much it costs? Don’t know if you get your money back if you don’t get the domain name? You’re not alone. (Re that last link: it doesn’t matter who has accurate information; the fact that so many people are confused or getting conflicting information is a symptom of the complexity.)
Our tech team is a little bit behind.
Registrar search is dismal. Some registrars require you to go to a separate part of their site to register new domains.
Imagine trying to find something on Google, but instead of using the main search box you have to click a link and use a different search box.
Who spends $50 million marketing a product but doesn’t hire a good user interface expert to allow people to easily buy the product?
It sounds ridiculous, but that’s what’s happening.
There are also technical errors. I’m often told a domain isn’t available when it is. At eNom.com my search comes back “unknown” when a domain hasn’t come out yet. It doesn’t tell me I can pre-register it. If I search for a domain in Donuts’ EAP it tells me I can register it for a seemingly steep price, but doesn’t mention this is an early access program price. Well, the cart at checkout actually shows a registration fee and “Early Access Fee” without any explanation about what that extra fee is.
If a domain isn’t yet ready for pre-registration at GoDaddy, the search defaults to .com.
Somewhere in the c-suite at Verisign an executive is having a chuckle.
Help! My domain doesn’t work!
I just got an awesome .sexy domain name. But when I type it in on my iPhone the site doesn’t resolve. The browser takes me to a search results page.
It’s a good thing no one uses Apple products, huh? (cough)
A smoother future?
Birthing Pangs (noun): the hardships and difficulties accompanying a major innovation, change, or new venture.
For the sake of the industry, let’s hope these can be quickly worked out.