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2 Things that could harm domain names

Forget new TLDs vs. old TLDs. The industry needs to focus on outside threats, too.

Much of the conversation in the domain name industry over the past year has been about this battle between new TLDs and .com. The debate has been about if .com is king or if new TLDs pose a challenge to them.

This internal debate has reduced focus on threats from outside the domain name ecosystem: apps and browsers.

Apps are an alternative to websites, especially on mobile phones and tablets. Many in the domain industry laugh at the idea of apps posing a threat to domain names. But the reality is apps are sticky and often provide a better consumer experience than the mobile web.

They’re sticky because they’re like a bookmark…and it’s like the bookmark tab from a browser is always “pulled down” in front of the user. They can work better when it comes to transactional sites. I had coffee with a friend the other day who buys his movie tickets through an app. Going to a website and logging in would be a pain, he said.

Browsers are a threat because the browser companies control access to the web. Changes to how browsers handle domain names have been a big cause of the drop in domain name parking revenue.

Think about it. Google Chrome is owned by a search engine. Internet Explorer is owned by a search engine. If you owned a search engine, wouldn’t you prefer to drive traffic to your search engine rather than directly to a website?

There are certainly other threats out there, and the domain name industry (both the .com and new TLD camps) needs to keep its eye out for these threats.

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  1. yyzyyc

    interesting. in addition, would you say certain new DNS initiatives could be added to the ‘threat’ list ?

  2. Mike

    And it could happen very very quickly. Look how UBER ™ has transformed the Taxi services throughout many major Cities within, how long, a couple years or so .

  3. Domain Investors Union

    From April 2nd to April 15th there will be the first official IPS, the first officially proclamed International Parking Strike.

    I hope everyone will participate.

  4. JP

    Apps are not a threat. Never will be. Different animal. They crash, require updates, require you to buy a new phone, are notsupported on every phone… Worst user experience ever. Here’s my experience with Apps over and over again:

    1) I think to myself I need to solve a problem and consider apps but remember that last time I did this I resolved myself never to pay for an App again.
    2) I spend quite a bit of time searching, downloaing, installing then uninstalling free apps coz none do exactly what I want and some just don’t work.
    3) At this point I sucker myself into a paid app. But after I pay and download, it too does not work right. Money gone, no refunds. Sometimes I fall for this twice before I come to the same conclusion again.
    4) Never pay for apps!

    Here’s how the same experience goes with domains/websites:

    1) Search Google for what you want
    2) Try one of the search results
    3) If it doesnt work hit back button and try another
    4) Repeat until you solve your problem.

    No installs, no deletes, no updates, no app crashes, and if you paid for something you can probably get your money back. Apps have nothing on domains. Apps won’t totally go away because certain apps add value like the bank apps and games.

    I think anyone who prefers apps to websites and thinks they could do away with the website is not rational.

    • d0m41nh4ck3r

      Yes. The world is defined by your experience and a lot of the world is clearly irrational.

      I guess it would be silly to point out that for most people “the internet browser” via an APP because they don’t use computers. They use phones, they use tablets.

      You’re like the baker who declared sliced bread irrational because isn’t it easier to cut your bread yourself to the thickness of your preference?

      You’re like the green grocer who declared salad bags were stupid because it’s lettuce in a bag.

      • d0m41nh4ck3r

        My experience with an App when I *know* what I want.

        Slide finger between 1 and 5 time depending on use frequency.
        Double Tap
        Get what I want

        If I want the browser open the browser app.

        Here’s your flow:

        1) Search Google for what you want
        2) Try one of the search results
        3) If it doesnt work hit back button and try another
        4) Repeat until you solve your problem.

        Where is the Domain Name meaningful here?
        If I’m just “searching” then the domain name is worthless because it’s the content, SEO and marketing that will win.

        I may as well click on link 1 that only has an IP address. This is not weird, people use torrents every single day.

        If they find a great site? What do you do if it says “Try our App”? Ignore that because google search I easier?

  5. Johnny

    The problem with apps is that they only offer value for very specific things like banks and games. 99.9% of business are totally wasting their time even offering apps. An average person opened something like 4-5 apps in the past 6 months, and 2-3 of them are games. From the pov of a biz owner – good luck being one of these 5 apps.

    Another huge problem with apps is that there is no good way to advertise them. Advertising MyName.com is way easier and better than asking telling people to find your app and hope they will download and use it.

    As far as search engines gaming and muddling up results and all that, the more they do, the better for domains. In fact, I would say that being able to achieve consistent seo results is the biggest threat to domain values. Once biz owners finally figure out that seo no longer works, they have no choice but to turn to paid advertising. And that increases demand for better domains.

  6. Drake

    I have been hearing this since 2010, but my dot com sales double year over year, each year new records.

  7. domain guy

    1.2 million apps and counting. all fighting for valuable screen time with finickey millenials. Expensive to develop. Hard to retain top of mind and no email address. The domain is the lynch pin of any site. Not fb, not twitter, not instagram

  8. @Domains

    Not everyone has every app, but everyone has a browser to visit websites and an email account. (e.g.: if I don’t have your messenger app or photo app, then I can’t interact with your messages or posts).

    I’d agree that apps take away some use of domain names, but you can’t completely eliminate domains with apps. Apps are pervasive now and I can’t see they’ve put a dent in the need for domains, this issue was being discussed 5+ years ago and I think the results are in.

    Simply put, there are no threats that could completely erase the use of domain names. Anyone can argue this or that, but in the end nothing can make domains go away completely.

    It’s similar to how street addresses and phone numbers can’t be completely replaced. Mailing a letter or package, or calling someone on the phone, is the same as it was 30, 40, 50+ years ago, even if the devices have changed in the case of phones (no more rotary dialers).

    Paperless technology has allowed us to print less, but we still need printers and photocopiers.

    Email and apps have reduced the need for phone calls, but we still make phone calls.

  9. Andrew Allemann

    I agree that apps are imperfect. They chip away at domains somewhat, though. If nothing else, some companies have gone with an app-first distribution strategy, and they’ll pay less for a second tier domain because of this.

  10. Steve

    With a recent report suggesting up to 98% of clicks on paid ads are from bots exact match domains with relevant content are even more valuable. People know if they invest in an exact match .com domain they will get direct navigational traffic. Paying companies to send traffic to your paid ads is apparently a bad idea.

  11. M. Menius

    I don’t see social media or apps replacing the domain name system. Most of the companies I have observed trying to use facebook as their online identity have a url that is difficult to remember. Twitter is a very weak representation of the information contained in a website. Apps are a much smaller ecosystem and not a good comparison imo to a dedicated website accessed via a superior domain name.

  12. kemji

    I dont think apps will overrun domains. Why are we having ever increasing # of domain registrations year on year end? Also, not every website has an app so if you use only apps you cant access many more websites!

  13. its me y'all

    well google all but said as much when it announce that on apr 21 if your website doesnt look like an app ehem is ‘mobile’ then its gettin’ bumped to the end of the list. but I think that sites that really do transform to like-app will be included in the mobile appcentric landscape. the bloggers should get back to wordpress or the designers are really starting to put out free themes that have app-like menus and convert real well. dont get tied to your old non app centric pc style themes and that will be a start

    • its me y'all

      they even have a few really nice plugins free at wp site that will read the users device and turn your blog into one that fits just to their device the blog writers need to be looking up some of these new plugins they are putting them out free just don’t rest on your laurels about your blog design and stay updated on the designs coming out to get your site more app-like

  14. billgates786

    Finally someone who is talking some sense. I’ve interacted with the early teens and teens and they just don’t like/get the idea of a website. For them, everything is an app be it social, games, dates, music, shopping etc. They don’t search on google ( the reason why google had a bad quarter ) and its the app takes it all market.

    I agree that the future is apps and domains will be passe. I remember that I had similar point of view for why IDN’s won’t work in India and the sheer majority of domineers at IDNF brainwashed me into believing it would. I ended up registering a few domains, renewing them and then after years dropping them.

    To all domainers, start developing apps 🙂

  15. Steve B

    Well Google is already trying keep most of the traffic on Google – from answers to knowledge graphs, and apps. Also, look at all the industries that Google has been breaking into in the last several years – shopping, travel, financial services, etc..

  16. HowieCrosby

    Apps are old news aren’t there? Clogging up your phones with icons. You could never have an infrastructure with just apps because of this short sight. Anyway, apps are being taken over by cards. Didn’t you all know that 😉
    Now there’s a thing…

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