Verisign signs transliteration TLD contracts, discusses the state of .com.
There was a lot of interesting information in yesterday’s Verisign quarterly investor conference call.
First, the company said it signed 11 contracts for its IDN transliterations of .com and .net, meaning that investors of IDN.com domain names might be close to getting their hands on IDN.com-as-IDN domains.
I say might because Verisign isn’t willing to put a date on it and hinted that the end is not near. The company said it’s asking for a modified sunrise period (reserving for matching brands in .com) and this could take a while if they get pushback.
Interestingly, Verisign CEO James Bidzos, discussing how these transliterations will be marketed, said “We’ll simply be notifying existing registrant brands that the transliteration of their .com registration is available to them.”
I wonder how they’ll do that. I assume they mean they’ll ask the registrars to do this, since the registrars control the contact information and customer relationship.
As for the fourth quarter in .com and .net, new adds were below expectations at 0.59 million. The company expects this to bounce back in the traditionally strong first quarter with 1M-1.5M net adds.
Some of this is due to lower first time renewal rates. Renewals of domains registered for just one year fell to 50.7% last year, down from 52.8%. Verisign thinks this has a lot to do with growth in markets such as China. These emerging markets generally have lower renewal rates.
Verisign also said it’s going to change how it reports the domain name base, due to a change in the number of domains in “hold” status at the registrar. Traditionally this number has held steady at about 400,000. But the new Registrar Accreditation Agreement caused a spike in on hold domains because of suspensions over whois verification.
About 475,000 more domains are in hold status now than a year ago, so Verisign is going to start including on hold domains in its domain base.
As for the future of .com and .net in the face of new TLDs, Bidzos pointed to the recent 7 and 8 figure sales of Z.com, Porno.com and 360.com as proof of strength of .com domains. He also pointed out that 3.6 million .net domain names were registered last year, which is about how many new TLDs were registered combined.