ICANN Allowing Any Domain Ending, For a Price

ICANN has announced that it will allow customers to apply for any ending to their domain name for a fee of $185,000. This means instead of www.ocell.net/blog/ I could host this site at blog.ocell, for $185k. Maybe I’m being cynical, and I’m the last to want to fight progress, but this feels a bit ‘scammy’. I have a couple thoughts on it…

1. This is going to make advertising any site not at one of the currently-standard 22 domain endings difficult. When you see something like foodwechew.com printed on a sticker, t-shirt, or bus, you know that punching those characters in your browser will give you a destination. However, throw foodwe.chew on a billboard, and I don’t think the connection is going to be immediately obvious to viewers.

2. It feels a bit like ICANN is just printing money here. $185,000 is not a small amount of money. One angle is that the extremely high registration cost will keep domain squatters from scooping up domain endings for all of the major brands and franchises. However, I don’t think this is going to keep the Fortune 500 from feeling pressured to invest in registering their properties right away. For a company as large as Sony, for example, the domains are numerous. Bravia, Playstation, Cybershot, and on. What an investment a company like GE must be looking at. And now, think of all of this money going to one organization, ICANN, all at once. That’s printing money right there.

And really, how much impact does this have in the current age of Google. I have to admit that I’ve reached a point where I typically search for the site I’m looking for, even if I’m relatively sure of the domain. At least when you want to guess, you can depend on throwing .com or .org on the end of your best guess with some relative assurance that you’re going to get something relevant. Removing that known quantity from behind the last dot feels more like cryptography a marketing opportunity, to me.

Of course, this is just the evolution of the internet. This was an inevitable step. How much longer will domain names even be a relevant part of our connected experience?


My buddy Daniel Evanson told me that Fox has quoted the costs of buying the domains they need at $12 Million.

Read the press release at ICANN.ORG



Road Runner’s Custom 404 Ad-Loaded Page

Road Runner is LimpingI’ve got Time Warner Cable internet service, also known as Road Runner. Recently, they’ve replaced the standard HTTP 404 error page with a new Road Runner search page, searching off of keywords in the domain you tried. That’s annoying enough, but now I’m frequently getting their custom (ad-loaded) HTTP 404 page when I try to go to perfectly valid websites. (Check out the screenshot to the right)

I’m sure it’s an issue with their DNS server being flaky, which shouldn’t be happening in the first place. It just makes things that much more annoying when, instead of the site you want to go to, you get a bunch of ads thrown at you.

Of course, there’s also the fact that the first ad is the site I’m trying to go to. Is it possible that Time Warner is using this to extort ad revenue from big clients like Amazon? I know 90% of cable internet customers will just click on the ad link to get to the site they’re trying to go to and not question the whole thing. (I know several people still type full URLs into Google to go to a website)

[Update] Another example, we all know downloadsquad.com exists… so why did I get this page several times while trying to go to the site?


[Update 2] If you go to http://ww23.rr.com/prefs.php you can apparently disable this “service”. The link to that page is found in the very bottom-right of the error page. Of course, 99.5% of Time Warner’s users are never going to see that link, so Time Warner will be taking in extorted ad revenue as it redirects (and confuses) users as they try to go to perfectly valid URLs. Good game Time Warner.

Is there anyone in the telecom industry that isn’t inherently dishonest?