Phase one of open registration is now open for .tel.
The first phase of open registration for the new .tel domain name is underway. I’ve been a vocal critic of .tel, even suggesting that the $35 million investment in .tel registry Telnic should be written off as a loss. I don’t want it to fail and hope that time proves me wrong. I just think the odds are stacked against it.
At DOMAINfest last week I talked with Telnic’s Justin Hayward. I’ve talked with him before on the phone, but being in person he was able to show me a Blackberry application for .tel. Hayward shared a booth with Domain Monster, a domain registrar that specializes in helping new domains get exposure at launch.
Domain Monster, a division of Mesh Digital, said that .tel is exceeding its expectations for a launch and has four times the number of preorders that the company had for .asia (the last major launch). Domain Monster wouldn’t tell me what number that translated to, but a little snooping shows that it’s not much. As of May, Domain Monster had fewer than 10,000 .asia domain registrations. There were a total of 177,000 .asia registrations to date in May across all registrars. So even if .tel does four times that many registrations, the math still doesn’t work out. For Telnic to thrive .tel has to reach a huge critical mass.
Another problem: GoDaddy isn’t offering .tel domain names. Having GoDaddy on the bench is necessary for a new TLD launch. It registered over 15% of all .asia domains as of October. And when it really pushes a domain the results are spectacular: GoDaddy registered over half of all .mobi domains as of October. GoDaddy probably wasn’t interested in .tel because it can’t sell private registrations or hosting services along with it, and those products offer much better margins than domain registrations.
.Tel’s fate aside, should you register the domains? It depends on what you want to use them for.
You can’t put pay-per-click ads on a .tel domain (no parking). You can host a web site on a .tel domain. Just about the only “domainer” play you could make is buying common terms to sell to real people or businesses, or to hope your .tel gets good page rank and then send link juice from your .tel to another web site.
In the first phase of the landrush, which starts today and runs through March 23, registrations will set you back about $375 total for the three year registration minimum. After March 23 prices should drop to about $15 or so per year. Registrars participating include Moniker and Dotster.