A Quick And Easy Way To Grow .AU

As I’ve written many times, I’m not in favour of direct registrations being implemented in Australia. Two years down the track from the final recommendations of the 2015 Names Policy Panel, there is now considerably more evidence that there is simply no business case for another extension.

But there is one thing that auDA could do (almost instantly) to increase growth in the .au space. And this would be welcomed by the majority of Supply and Demand members – as well as many disenfranchised Australian individuals.

Cut The Red Tape For Australians

Currently, an Aussie individual without an ABN can only register an .id.au extension. This has been a total flop – the stats speak for themselves.

Look at our peers. Similar ccTLD’s like NZ, UK and Canada are very liberal as to eligibility for individuals (though Canada has a residency or citizenship requirement).

Australian Citizens or Residents should therefore be allowed to register any Australian domain name extension without the need for an ABN. To safeguard any rorting of the system, this would be on the basis of the existing “warranty system” that auDA currently employs to determine eligibility.

For those not aware, there is technically a mandate for this already. The Names Panel members (almost without exception) agreed on this fundamental change. I can tell you that because I was on the NP!

This was part of the Names Panel recommendations which the auDA Board accepted in February and April 2016 (subject to policy rules being finally determined as part of implementation planning processes). Have a read of this 3 page section (PROPOSED APPLICATION OF 2LD ELIGIBILITY AND ALLOCATION CRITERIA TO DIRECT REGISTRATIONS):

NP Report 16 to 18 Landscape

 

What do you think?

Ned O’Meara – 30th August 2017


Disclaimer

46 thoughts on “A Quick And Easy Way To Grow .AU

  • Scott.L
    August 30, 2017 at 10:57 am
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    Its a system of commerce; think of these restrictions as a type of proxy to stop ‘kids’ from entering into a commercial contract. If your old enough to get an ABN then your old enough to take some responsibility for that business. Its irresponsible to open .com.au  to ‘everyone’ for the sake of increasing growth creates, restricting the DNS adds consumer safeguards and increases the commercial value for ALL.

    • Ned O'Meara
      August 30, 2017 at 11:11 am
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      But what if you’re not a business Scott?

      Or if you’re one of many thousands of Australian sole traders that have hobby businesses way under reporting thresholds?

      These were things considered on the Names Panel. auDA is a not-for-profit membership organisation that promotes and protects the .au domain space for all Australians.

  • Scott.L
    August 30, 2017 at 1:44 pm
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    The current restriction is a mechanism to verify age; I agree .au can be opened up (made more inclusive) but only on the provision of a suitable age (18 years old) + identity (citizen/resident).

    How can that be monitored?

    auDA can issue a registrant ID number. Obviously, certain contractual limits apply for people under 18 – so, if it were available to people under 18 then certain “restrictions” would need to be applied. i.e non-commercial..etc  

  • Avatar
    August 30, 2017 at 2:49 pm
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    This is the most obvious problem with .com.au, many Australian’s who want to start a site simply cannot register one, especially the case for those starting something up in their spare time who more often than not would not have an ABN to enter.

    At the moment those people would simply register a .com. If AUDA wants real growth (as opposed to just trying to double selling a near identical product twice) they need to cut out the red out the red tape in the extension and make it accessible to the mums, dads & students. They are the people who are driving small business growth in Australia, let them in the .com.au door at the earliest stage possible.

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  • Avatar
    August 30, 2017 at 3:05 pm
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    An ABN requirement hasn’t stopped scammers.  Deregulate registrations for Australian residents. A drivers license or similar proof of identity should be enough.

    Jeff

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    • Avatar
      August 30, 2017 at 3:28 pm
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      Agree, I think it comes down to how can AUDA ensure registrants are Australian or doing business here. It needs something new. They should be looking at .de, .ca and likely others to figure out a suitable model.

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  • Avatar
    August 30, 2017 at 7:54 pm
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    While I agree the red tape dealing with .au is ludicrous, there are several ways to deal with it. Why not open up second level .au registrations, to anyone anywhere, grandfather existing 3LD registrations and tighten their eligibility and allow any 3LD registrants to have gratis for x years the 2LD. A process for the conflicts needs to be developed.

    As for growth, pretty much all western ccTLDs are treading water. Growth rates are declining to be non-existent. The same for pretty much all but .com in legacy gTLDs. Among the larger new gTLDs those that haven’t had discounted promotions are doing OK. To expect much growth in .au without significant eligibility changes, such as allowing individuals to register, is not going to happen. Even then I wonder if .au has missed the boat. Some ccTLDs say half of their registrations are to individuals.

    • Avatar
      August 30, 2017 at 8:20 pm
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      Why not open up second level .au registrations, to anyone anywhere

      Registrars would love it, but it is essentially creating a new tld and it would devalue the whole space.

      • Avatar
        August 31, 2017 at 12:21 pm
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        How would it devalue .au? The international evidence doesn’t support your claim.

        • Scott.L
          August 31, 2017 at 9:43 pm
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          How would it devalue .au? The international evidence doesn’t support your claim.

          Its not so much the international evidence we should be concerned about, but the local evidence. International ccTLD’s exist in their own economic and policy condition, we should not be fooled into thinking our own is comparable.      

    • Avatar
      August 30, 2017 at 9:40 pm
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      David, why push the additional competing .au extension so auDA and Ausregistry can more money?

      Is Ausregistry a client of yours? If so, please put in a disclaimer to state clearly you are paid by them.

      The fact is most of the information put forward for the push of another .au extension was done by those who want to make more money themselves from it.

      Numerous claims and statements made by some Supply entities like Ausregistry, Melbourne IT* (and some of their related entities) appear to be in my opinion false and misleading. BOTH .uk and .nz have less than 10% take up rate. They have been a complete failure. They have not been ‘remarkably successful” as some claimed in their propaganda materials and Yes Only vote campaigns to their databases of contacts and registrants.

      Also if people want .au growth, how about auDA and Ausregistry honour the 2008 wholesale.au contract renewal terms they promoted which included the .au wholesale price drop term.

      When will auDA and Ausregistry lower the .au wholesale price and pay back the money to the millions of .au registrants that promised .au wholesale discount PLUS interest?

      Numerous Supply registrars/ resellers said they will lower their .au pricing when auDA and Ausregistry lower it.

      What is the delay? Who is making the $ million? auDA, Ausregistry!

      Publisher Note: This post has been modified.

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      • Avatar
        August 31, 2017 at 11:06 am
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        Hilarious. I’m asked to put in a disclaimer yet nobody else is. Oh, and I have publicly supported second level registrations for over a decade. It’s on the public record. AusRegistry/Neustar has been a client for around 2 years. And at least I write here under my name, unlike many.

        Still, you wouldn’t want facts and selective calls for transparency to get in the way of a good story.

        As for making money – who says anyone will make money? Do you actually understand the industry? And funny how the branding person who spoke at the AGM in favour of second level registrations from a business perspective has been whitewashed from the memory of those here. Still, you wouldn’t want facts and informed opinions to get in the way of a good story. Better to have ignorance and prejudice eh.

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    • Avatar
      August 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm
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      How about we avoid conflict altogether by not bringing in direct registrations.

       

      The confusion they will bring is quite simply a really obvious massive negative issue.

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      • Shane Moore
        August 31, 2017 at 10:55 am
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        Agreed.

        I love the look of the shorter domains, but adding confusion can only weaken the .au brand.

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        • Avatar
          August 31, 2017 at 11:29 am
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          For those who want a shorter version of .com.au they have a very good option in .com. It is better known that .au will ever be and far less confusion issues.

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          • Avatar
            August 31, 2017 at 12:22 pm
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            You don’t understand that registrants generally really like their own ccTLDs, something that’s been shown around the world whenever research and/or surveys have been carried out.

            • Avatar
              August 31, 2017 at 3:55 pm
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              I think people go with what is popular, .com.au and .com are widely used by Australian consumers. Consumers don’t know what a “ccdld” is and .au means nothing to them, it reads like a typo.

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              • Avatar
                August 31, 2017 at 6:01 pm
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                It’s not what the research, both in Australia and in several other countries, shows. Research shows people like their ccTLDs.

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  • Avatar
    August 31, 2017 at 8:59 pm
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    .uk registrations are 9% of their .co.uk option
    .nz registrations are 6% of their .co.nz option

    Any claims the “shorter” version is in high demand and better is not only misinformed it is often pure B.S. and just fake lies. The actual registration data is FACT.

    DNC OFFICIAL REPORT – DOMAIN NAME COMMISSION NEW ZEALAND

    NZ fact the .nz has failed and is not “remarkably successful” as claimed
    “Figure 3 shows the total number of domain names increased from 640,342 (at 1 April 2015) to 656,607 (at 31 March 2016) – a growth of 16,265, or 2.5 percent. The dip between February and March 2016 reflects the one-year anniversary of the end of the preferential registration and registration period – an important part of the registrations direct at the second level change.

    It appears that some registrants, having exercised their preferential registration rights, have subsequently let the shorter version of their name drop. “

    https://www.dnc.org.nz/sites/default/files/2016-08/Domain Name Commission – Annual Report – .pdf

    • Avatar
      September 4, 2017 at 1:48 pm
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      I’d be grateful if you wouldn’t misrepresent the .nz position.

      It was almost exactly three years ago that the second level in .nz was opened up and currently of the ~692k domains in .nz, ~129k are directly at the second level, so close to 19%.

      Also, of the ~129k .nz domains, ~27k do not have a corresponding .co.nz or .org.nz etc

      All our stats are published daily on our Internet Data Portal (https://idp.nz) and here’s a quick chart showing monthly growth of .nz vs .co.nz https://twitter.com/dotNZ/status/904551380307685377

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      • Avatar
        September 4, 2017 at 2:07 pm
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        And I should add that .co.nz are ~499k and so .nz is actually ~26% of .co.nz and that percentage continues to grow.

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          • Avatar
            September 12, 2017 at 9:46 am
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            Where you say “The NZ growth rate has slumped since .nz was was brought in.” I’m afraid that’s entirely incorrect.   Before .nz was brought in growth was on a clear downward trend and it bottomed out at 2%.

            Opening the second level brought a big spike but that has now largely passed (we will get one more when the conflicts period ends) and growth is better than it was before opening the second level.

            Here’s a chart I just posted that shows this https://twitter.com/dotNZ/status/907388954428686336

            And just to note that you can recreate this using our data portal (https://idp.nz) even down to a daily calculation if you want.

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            • Avatar
              September 12, 2017 at 10:11 am
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              Thanks Jay.

              It is very clear from that graph to see that the growth rate slumped in the lead up to your launch of .NZ.

              Most of discussion about direct registrations, including proposals and board votes happened from late 2012 though 2013. From you graph that aligns very closely with the very sharp drop in growth from 10% eventually hitting 2%.

              People can check the dates on Domain Name Commission news releases on the issue and see how the timeframe obviously tallies up with the slumping growth in your chart,

              https://www.dnc.org.nz/the-commission/news?page=6

              In my view a lot of damage has been done to your cctld by direct registrations.

               

               

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              • Avatar
                September 12, 2017 at 10:55 am
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                Anyone who knows anything about the global domain market will know that registrations in about 9 out of 10 ccTLDs in developed countries have seen registration growth decline significantly. So much so many are wondering where their growth will come from.

                Hence the move for consolidation, such as outsourcing backend registriesand moving into other businesses.

                And in the leadup to the launch of new gTLDs quite a few legacy gTLDs, and even some ccTLDs, saw declines in total registrations. For some this decline started much earlier and was exacerbated by the introduction of new gTLDs.

                I know. Terrible. I deal with facts. Terrible.

                • Avatar
                  September 12, 2017 at 11:18 am
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                  David, .co.nz was a fast growing extension right up until the direct registration proposal.

                  This was not like big extensions such .fr or .co.uk which were dormant or seeing 1-2% growth. It had annual growth around 10% year after year.

                   

                  • Avatar
                    September 12, 2017 at 11:44 am
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                    Have you done any research to compare .nz to comparable ccTLDs? Obviously the answer is no. Have you delved into the .nz statistics and taken notice of what Jay said? Obviously no.

                    I know it pains you to accept this, but ccTLDs don’t frame their policies for the interests of domain investors.

                    • Avatar
                      September 12, 2017 at 11:54 am
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                      David, you’d be better off backing up your claims with actual data rather than just making assumption about what I have or haven’t looked at.

                      Jay Daley’s chart is very clear, the rapid decline in growth starts in late 2012 right when the direct registration proposal came out (it came out on 27th September 2012).

                      https://twitter.com/dotNZ/status/907388954428686336

                      The NZ cctld was doing very well up until that point.

              • Avatar
                September 12, 2017 at 12:27 pm
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                The most important factor affecting domain name sales in the 2012-2013 period was all the publicity and uncertainty around new gTLDs.  That adversely impacted just about every established ccTLD.

                At our AGM in July 2013, before the first new gTLDs had launched, I included a slide (slide 5 – https://cdn.nzrs.net.nz/_.dgm8o9ZE66o/bBqM60rvD48nk/InternetNZ%20AGM%202013.pdf) on the drop in growth rates across a few ccTLDs from 2011/12 to 2012/13 (Apr-Mar).  .au growth rate fell from 17.8% to 10.5%, .nl from 11.6% to 6.9%, .uk from 7.9% to 4.1% and .de from 4.6% to 2.9%.

                If you’re interested in the mechanisms by which new gTLDs hit growth then here’s my view: http://www.circleid.com/posts/20150716_where_has_the_domain_name_growth_gone/

                • Avatar
                  September 12, 2017 at 2:01 pm
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                  .au growth rate fell from 17.8% to 10.5%, .nl from 11.6% to 6.9%, .uk from 7.9% to 4.1% and .de from 4.6% to 2.9%.

                  Page 4 & 5 show how the nz cctld extension was doing well before the direct registration proposal. Growth rate was steady and even accelerating to some degree unlike other cctlds. David Goldstein really should take a careful look at that link.

                  https://cdn.nzrs.net.nz/_.dgm8o9ZE66o/bBqM60rvD48nk/InternetNZ%20AGM%202013.pdf

                  When NZ announced  direct registrations the chart you posted previously show the growth rate fell from 10% to 2% in under a year. What other cctld had that magnitude of decline? Even now it is still under 4% so it seems permanent damage to growth has been done.

                  To compare .au has had declining growth every year since 2007. New Zealand didn’t have the same problem until the proposal of Sept 2012.

            • Avatar
              September 12, 2017 at 3:18 pm
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              I would say the decline is due to this…

              The EMD Update — for “Exact Match Domain” — is a filter Google launched in September 2012 to prevent poor quality sites from ranking well simply because they had words that match search terms in their domain names.

              http://searchengineland.com/library/google/emd-update

      • Ned O'Meara
        September 12, 2017 at 7:54 am
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        @Jay – thanks for the stats on .nz. What a great data set you keep!

        On a personal basis, I have participated in the .nz market on a small basis for the past 8 years (as a domain investor). When direct reg came around, I ultimately decided that I had to defensively register the corresponding .nz. And therein lies the problem – it was unnecessary expenditure to me in such a small market. And if I felt that way, I’m sure many others did too.

        Now if only we could turn back time and just have .nz from the get go! That would be ideal.

  • Avatar
    September 2, 2017 at 5:11 am
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    Maybe I am missing something, but why is growth in the number of  .au domains assumed to desirable  ?

    If the wholesale registry fees were closer to the actual cost, ( 1/3 to 1/2 of the current ) registrar revenue / margins could theoretically double for the same portfolio, from the registrar supply side the net monetary effect would be the same as doubling their AU registrations for the same effort / costs.

    The registry operator  ( one private for-profit entity ) would see revenue / profits halved but they could still see a fair ROI for very low risk commercial activity.

    For the demand side, consumers and hobbyists have 1400 +- TLDs to chose from, if they really really want an AU why not id.au ? or “me.au” or something a little catchier.

    While <10% uptake of top levels in NZ and UK might be seen as a failure and proof of lack of demand, commercially to the registry operator even 10% of AU is significant increase in revenue ( in the millions ) with only a negligible increase in cost.

    Who gains from increasing the number of registrations ? …  so far as I can see nobody except the party contracted to provide registry services.  But maybe I am missing something.

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    • Avatar
      September 2, 2017 at 9:44 am
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      Hi Garth,

      By your argument we should just do away with ccTLDs altogether as there are over a thousand TLD options? In short, people and businesses like/love their own ccTLDs. When .fr liberalised their policies allowing individuals the proportion of individuals registering domain names under .fr went from around zero to around 50% where it roughly is today. A primary goal of a ccTLD is about serving the people and businesses in its country. Obviously .au is a miserable failure to its people. Where in the world is a ccTLD with sound policies has allowing individuals to register caused a problem. And no, .id.au is not an option. It’s unloved, to be kind. So nor is another option like .me.au.

      Anyone with a semi-creative mind can create policies that don’t give a registry any great advantage in revenue if that’s your biggest concern.

      But I do partly agree. Growth shouldn’t be the answer. It should be giving the people and businesses what they want. And so far .au has been a miserable failure.

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  • Ned O'Meara
    September 12, 2017 at 12:47 pm
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    Jay Daley from NZRS has offered to write a guest article on their experiences of opening up .nz, and how he went from being against the idea to thinking it’s been a great success.

    I think it would be great to get that sort of perspective from someone who has “lived through the war”, so I have accepted.

    Whilst I don’t have a closed mind, I think he’s got a challenge on his hands! 🙂

    • Avatar
      September 12, 2017 at 2:11 pm
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      to thinking it’s been a great success

      What else is the CEO going to say about their main project? Bring on the article!

  • Avatar
    September 12, 2017 at 2:32 pm
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    For my 2 cents,  nowhere in section 3 ( Objects ) of the auDA constitution does it say that auDA was formed to promote or grow .au as a “brand”.

    Growth in the number of domains in the database is not metric by which the success or failure of an auDA policy can or should be judged.  If a policy grows ( or shrinks ) the .au database it does not mean the policy has been a success or failure.

    The introduction of registrations at the second level could theoretically reduce the number of domains by 10% and still be deemed a wild success as long as the result helped auDA acchive one ore more of the principal purposes for which auDA was created, none of which include promoting growth. 

    https://www.auda.org.au/about-auda/our-org/constitution/#3

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    • Avatar
      September 12, 2017 at 2:44 pm
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      Garth,

      I agree, it should be run for the public good, not to maximise revenue. Nominet has these issues where they are trying to expand simply to create a bigger “business”.

      However for Ausregistry and registrars I think this is just about trying to increase revenue, especially getting the double hit from clients where they renew both variants.

      For something like .uk they have had zero growth since direct registrations but I don’t think anyone beyond Nominet would consider it a success because of the confusion added to the market.

      • Avatar
        September 12, 2017 at 3:09 pm
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        Have you ever sat down and try to understand the business of a registry or registrar? Obviously not. I know it’s hard for you to understand, but registrars DO NOT make money from registrations. OK, I should say it’s very little and if they relied on registrations solely, they’d either have to whack up prices or go out of business. They make it from the add-ons they sell. Think of it as something like the airline model. And most of these add-ons won’t be able to be sold for opening up .au if it’s the registrant just getting the shorter version of their domain name.

        As for registries, why not talk to people like Garth or any of the others, or better still a cross-section, and get an idea of how they do things. It’s something I do whenever I get the chance. You might even learn something.

        Oh, and there are more registries than those for .au, .nz and .uk. There’s a whole world of ccTLDs out there, and gradually those that have third level registrations are opening up the second level. The latest to announce this is .mt.

        • Avatar
          September 12, 2017 at 4:37 pm
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          I know it’s hard for you to understand, but registrars DO NOT make money from registrations. OK, I should say it’s very little and if they relied on registrations solely, they’d either have to whack up prices or go out of business.

          When does the $159.95 that MelbourneIT charge’s go then if they don’t make any money from it?

          • Avatar
            September 12, 2017 at 6:29 pm
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            I can also register a .com.au domain for under $10/year. So what if Melbourne IT’s business model is thus. There’s oodles of choice. If you’re really concerned, reach out to someone at Melbourne IT who might be able to explain their business model. If they were a monopoly, it would be an issue. But they’re not. Far from it.

  • Avatar
    September 12, 2017 at 3:38 pm
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    Unlike registrars, registries most certainly do stand to profit from growth, 2mln domains or 4mln domains, costs are essentially the same, revenue doubled. It is hard to imagine an enterprise with better economies of scale than a large domain registry.

    This is why outsourcing to private for profit registry companies is less than ideal.

     

     

     

     

     

    • Avatar
      September 12, 2017 at 6:31 pm
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      It’s possible a registry can stand to gain from growth. It depends on the model introduced, particularly for second level registrations.

      • Avatar
        September 12, 2017 at 11:24 pm
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        agreed, if one really wanted to protect existing registrants ( and make life easy for registrars  and existing registrants ) one could simply make the top level a variant of an existing the lower level – the variant exists in the zone and whois but  not as a new / separate object in the database.  Double the records in the au zones but registry db stays the same, a trivial technical exercise.

        No need to register or manage it, is not  a new registration, therefore no new registry or registrar fees. 😉 At the time of renewal a registrant can pay a small marginal fee to cover the additional DNS costs if they want to keep the variant.

        All sorts of things are possible if the policy is not profit  / growth driven.

        If confusion is a real concern why not make domains unique at the second level, some TLDs do, or give registrants all the variants in the “open” zones when they register one. This would decrease the size of the registry but increase the size of the zones.

        Have not though through all the issues, but lots of options.

  • Ned O'Meara
    September 22, 2017 at 8:38 am
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    Jay Daley has followed through with his commitment to write a guest article about opening up .nz. It is published today on Domainer.

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