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.
I just feel like its going to take a heck of alot more than $35M to launch a successful new .tld. I think that any new .tld has a chance of success. Its just going to cost Millions, and maybe Billions of marketing dollars to properly train the public to think of this .tld instead of .com first, or to even think of this .tld second. That’s just how powerful .com is IMHO.
I think the whole problem with new .tld popularity is just a marketing problem. A problem that a mere $35M may not be enough to fix.
Rob Sequin says
As much as they want .tel to succeed it’s DOA.
You can’t do anything with it
No one is going to know what a .tel is
Speculation is out of the market
Anyone using .cc, .name, .pro, .travel, .aero, .museum? (to some extent .mobi, .biz, .tv. Even .net and .info are used much less than .com)
Younger generation barely even knows what a telephone is anyway.
Sorry guys but just another extension and honestly hopefully the last.
This is just another way for newbies to fool themselves by speculating in the domain market. Then, after they piss away some money they are jaded by the domain industry forever.
I don’t understand why I would need an expensive domain to show all my contact data at one place for identity thefts and spam bots to grab? Their example pages (like emma.tel) allow easy grabbing of your email address for spam bots. Publish your email there and in few weeks you’ll get hundreds of spam email guaranteed.
Anthony Mitchell says
From a domain investment perspective, tels don’t have much going for them today. The old domain distribution channels aren’t going to help either, as described above. The popularity and traffic rates for tel generics are not predicted to match those of .asia or .eu anytime soon.
Tels aren’t traditional domains. They are ‘identifiers’ that will come of age when telephone numbers begin to have a public significance akin to IP address ranges. Some people delight in discussing IP addresses and address ranges, but in broader conversations we usually refer to the IP addresses of country x or company y.
Society is undergoing huge shifts as more of our social life moves online and personal branding becomes extremely important. In a world of 2 billion internet and telephone users, how is someone going to separate themselves from the crowd? Not by shouting out their IP address range.
In releasing dot-tels, Telnic is counting on messaging and social networking to increase in importance and to move out of the World Wide Web and into other communication media. It’s counting on unified communications becoming even more unified, not less, where the distinctions in what is a telephone-based SMS message and a Jabber/Live/Yahoo IM text message versus voice conversation continuing to recede.
Most of my voice conversations occur through online chat programs where my identity is locked up by the primary domain of the chat program provider. To adjust my availability, status messages and permission levels, I’m forced to make these adjustments manually in each of the chat programs every time I get up and leave the desk.
The biggest controversy in the social media scene right now is over the access to the Twitter firehose. Companies and consultants are making extreme gestures to gain favorable positions with access to that pipe. Identi.ca, one of the closest real competitors to dot-tel domains, is in a strong position because of its open source platform and its current ability to position its users in front of the pipe.
FriendFeed is another strong competitor because of its open access and content linking and tiering abilities, but it is limited somewhat by its position at the back end of the Twitter pipe.
Yahoo is in on the game with Yahoo pipes, a free service to transmit messages to other services such as BrightKite, a location-based mobile social network service.
The problem with Twitter is that it is both a closed platform and a company. In a world where open source innovation can quickly outrun proprietary platforms (long live Netscape 3!) Twitter is vulnerable to becoming the next Friendster.
In a world of dot-tels, companies such as Meebo that have positioned themselves as an initial communications gateway may find that what they have to offer looks increasingly like a feature and less like a product.
I predict that it will be the android development community that will blow the doors off dot-tel and bring it into the mainstream by having tels serve as the opening data set for user experiences with unified communication, but with a range of messaging clients. Unlike Meebo or ICQ, they will include voice. Unlike Skype or Live/Yahoo Messenger, they will include portable identifiers that also serve as personal brands.
We can expect to see some of the major telecom companies offering free dot-tel addresses and sub-domains. Companies such as T-Mobile and EarthLink, which already offer free addresses, will benefit from shifting to dot-tel because of the increased cross-platform functionality of dot-tels. They should also allow customers to use T-Mobile and EarthLink’s services with their own dot-tels.
All dot-tel needs is for one major telecom company to begin giving away free dot-tel addresses. Then the domain will take off.
But if we think of it as a traditional domain, we will miss its significance.