British betting site operator Leisure & Gaming plc has paid $1.4 million to acquire the domain name vip.com. The sale is the highest publicly reported domain resale of 2005, nearly doubling the $750,000 price for sales of property.com and website.com. The deal comes just two months after Leisure & Gaming plc acquired VIP Management Services and its themed online betting sites for 23.4 million pounds (about $42 million US).
Prices for registering a stand-alone .com domain remained unchanged this month at all major providers except Register.com, which ended a $30 "sale" and is once again the priciest domain seller at $35. The bargains on new domains have shifted to packages in which a domain is bundled with a hosting account. Go Daddy last week began offering domains for $1.99 with the purchase of any non-domain product, such as hosting or SSL certificates. That slices $2 off the $3.99 price for that package, which Go Daddy introduced in January.
Domain pay-per-click advertising services have come under siege from digital attackers, with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks disrupting advertising on hundreds of thousands of parked domains. The attacks in the past week have targeted Sedo and ParkingSite, two of the largest domain monetization services. Both services say they have issued credits to customers to compensate them for service interruptions.
The attacks open a new front in the battle between e-commerce sites and DDoS attackers, who have previously targeted online betting sites, payment gateways and even online games. Sites with large volumes of transactions are the primary targets for a cottage industry of digital extortionists using DDoS attacks, usually launched through large botnets of compromised computers. The sites targeted in the latest attacks have not said publicly whether they received any requests for payment.
The market for resold domains continued to trend higher with a series of spectacular deals this month. Meanwhile, prices for first-time domain registrations can't get much lower, with pricing unchanged at all major providers this month.
The sales of website.com and property.com for $750,000 apiece set the pace in the resale market. The mid-July sale of website.com was the highest sale price this year, according to auctioneer Sedo.com, topping the $700,000 sale of Local.com in March. The buyer, Hub Services Ltd., operates DotEasy, a free hosting service in British Columbia. That price was matched early this month when New Jersey commercial real estate professional Ted Kraus sold property.com for $750,000 in a private sale, with industry veteran Rick Schwartz reported to be the buyer.
As in July, pricing for first-time domain sales remained stable, with no significant price changes by major providers.
EurID, the operator of the new .eu top-level domain (TLD), says registrars won't be allowed to sell .eu domains through resellers. In a statement on its web site, EurID says its agreement with the European Commission prohibits .eu sales by parties that haven't been approved by EurID. "This means that the offering of services as a 'reseller' ... is completely excluded," says the statement. While no firm date has been set, the launch of .eu domain sales is expected to begin in early 2006. Domain industry insiders say similar reseller bans are being considered for other upcoming TLDs, including the .xxx and .travel extensions.
Resellers are an important sales channel for many domain name registrars, who provide back-end management of the domains sold by partners. The reseller model is used by thousands of web hosting companies, allowing them to seamlessly sell domain names alongside their core hosting and e-mail offerings. Some registrars specialize in the reseller market, providing private-label domain management sites, which can be branded with the resellers' logo and marketing. One of the largest reseller networks is operated by eNom, which is among the registrars approved by EurID to sell .eu domains.
The operator of the .name registry is offering a "free trial" on its domains, and appears to be encouraging registrars to mass-register .name URLs for existing customers. The Global Name Registry, which oversees .name, is limiting the freebie to a 60-day trial period, after which the registrant must pay for the name or return it to the registry. The promotion refines an Afilias' promotion from last year offering introductory free pricing on .info domains, but places a shorter time frame (60 days versus one year) before the domain fees must be paid. "All Free Trial Names are registered in bulk, i.e. an ISP/Registrar can allocate a free trial name to each of its customers at no charge," the offer notes. eNom affiliate Sipence used the Afilias offer last year as an opportunity to bulk register 1 million .info domains for customers who owned the same name in .com or .net.
The .name promotion was the major pricing news in a month in which prices for a one-year .com name held steady across our list of domain sellers.
ICANN and VeriSign will consider changes to the new .net registry agreement in response to a mass protest by major domain name registrars, who said the deal represented a "breach of trust" between ICANN and the registrar community. In response to a joint protest by more than 30 registrars at a Luxembourg meeting, ICANN chairman Vint Cerf announced today that VeriSign and ICANN will re-examine a provision in the agreement that lifts restrictions on the price VeriSign can charge registrars for each .net domain they sell.
"In light of the comments and the concerns from the community, VeriSign is willing to discuss reworking the fee cap provision," wrote Tim Ruiz of Go Daddy in an update to registrars. With the announcement, ICANN and VeriSign have committed to further discussions, with no guarantee of changes at this time. But the reopening of negotiations was seen as a step forward by registrars, who were concerned that changes in the fee structure in the .net agreement could set a precedent for the renewal of the .com registry, also maintained by VeriSign. But the registrars' primary grievance was that the lifting of the price cap was negotiated privately, and never mentioned in published drafts of the agreement.