[At-Large] Registrars: The new travel agents? (was Re: [GTLD-WG] Amazon, Google And Others Going After Generics)

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Fri Jun 15 18:06:55 UTC 2012

On 15 June 2012 11:23, "Michele Neylon :: Blacknight" <michele at blacknight.ie
> wrote:

> I think a couple of the mainstream media outlets picked up on this, but
> this really worries me and probably others:
> http://www.internetnews.me/2012/06/14/big-brands-trying-to-corner-generic-namespaces/

I think that the entrance of the Big Brands is the best possible
"unintended consequence" of the TLD expansion for content providers and end
users. It blows wide open the ICANN domain industry bubble and exposes it
to the real world. Verisign goes from being the big guy in the room to one
of the small ones. And the influx of radically different business models is
indeed the introduction of true competition.

New players in the domain space (such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and
Apple) means:

   - Who needs the middleman of registrars? All of them have their own well
   established retail mechanisms, and registrars offer them no value that they
   don't already have.

   - Since these companies already have strong global Internet
   infrastructures (and at least one has already been
playing<https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/>with domain
name infrastructures), they have no need for any of the service
   providers who currently control the name space and think they control ICANN

   - The Verisign "market power" problem evaporates, but for different
   reasons than expected. (It wouldn't surprise me if they were a buyout
   target soon)

   - Registries who make their money from advertising, or data, or sales of
   other things, will have the freedom to give away domains for free (and not
   just in those cheesy hosting/domain-name bundles), or to lease/rent them as

   - The big brands will likely offer more stability and be more vigilant
   (for example, about WHOIS data) than the status quo; they -- unlike ICANN
   -- have corporate reputations, other business lines and valued government
   relationships to protect

   - At the registries that give away domains, there is no incentive for
   domainers or speculators; as a result their namespace is far cleaner (and
   genuine content providers are more likely to find the names they want), and
   thus more trusted by end users than the domain-for-sale registries

   - The free offerings at new registries will have a positive (to end
   users and registrants) side-effect of dramatically lowering the value of
   speculative domains in new AND existing registries (especially the ccTLDs
   masquerading as gTLDs -- I'm looking at you, Colombia)

Michele, you know I love you. But I think you're right to be concerned. If
the rollout happens as you fear and I hope for, registrars face the same
future as travel agents. But just as some travel agents still survive by
servicing the hell out of clients and being far more than mere middleman in
a financial transaction, so will be the case for registrars that thrive in
ICANN's post-expansion era.

I've always been cynical about the gTLD expansion because all I'd seen from
it was ICANN's usual suspects engaging in their little power trips, shell
games and speculation plays. And indeed many of the gTLD applications
appear to indicate simply a higher-stakes form of domaining. But now that a
bigger picture is emerging, I'm happier to see the expansion take place,
and welcome the new big players into the family of registries.

The gTLD expansion was at the outset a play mainly of pure greed and
vanity, designed to satisfy demand that was mostly manufactured, or
non-existent. It's gratifying to see the end results playing out in "be
careful what you wish for" fashion.

- Evan

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