While Internet betting sites set odds on the identity of the next pope, domain speculators are buying up domains connected to names that might be adopted by the new Catholic leader. Blogger and technology author Rogers Cadenhead admitted to participating in "popesquatting" potential papal domains. "My money's on one of these six names - BenedictXVI, Clement XV, Innocent XIV, Leo XIV, Paul VII, Pius XIII," Cadenhead wrote on his blog. "I mean this literally. I registered all six of these as dot-com domain names earlier this month, which I feared was tacky - to say nothing of soul-imperiling - until I read about the vacant papal see stamp. Clearly I'm not the only baptized Catholic who gets geeked about this process."
Cadenhead has plenty of company. PopeBenedict16.com is already for sale on the domain auction site Sedo. But speculators who are just now thinking about papal names are arriving late to the game. The JohnPaulIII.com domain was registered in 1999 while JohnPaulIII.net was bought last November.
EV1Servers has been approved as an ICANN_accredited domain name registrar, the company said today. The Houston provider was approved for top level domains (TLDs) including .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info and .us. The ICANN approval follows a similar move by The Planet.
"This is great news - for both EV1 and our customers," says Robert Marsh, the company's CEO and Head Surfer, who is on the mend after undergoing open heart surgery last month. Marsh said the company plans to introduce an enhanced domain registration system with new features including DNS management and URL forwarding, which will be available to both new users and owners of the 200,000 domains EV1 currently manages through its reseller relationship with Tucows/OpenSRS. The company will also offer an integrated reseller interface for domain names, SSL certificates and website builder software.
A growing number of large hosting companies are becoming ICANN-accredited registrars, allowing them to sell domain names directly instead of relying on third-party wholesalers. The Planet is now accredited and is selling domains to existing customers for just $5.99 a year. Another huge dedicated hosting company, EV1Servers.net, says it is also seeking registrar status, citing the approval process as a factor in an extended outage for its online domain registration system.
Becoming a registrar allows hosting companies to eliminate the middleman and capture the fees being paid to their wholesale registrars on each domain. Some may be able to lower their domain prices and pass the savings along to customers. Germany's 1&1 Internet AG, the world's largest hosting specialist, is an accredited registrar and offers .com domain names for just $5.99 a year.
The domain price wars are finally being felt on the high end of the pricing spectrum, as Register.com has lowered its price for a one-year .com from $35 to $30. The move by the second-oldest registrar follows recent decision by the oldest registrar, Network Solutions, to offer price-slashing promotions. Register.com says the change is a "limited time offer." But after years of refusing to lower prices, the industry pioneers seem to be recognizing that the pool of folks who'll pay them $35 for a domain is shrinking.
In other pricing moves, Yahoo has ended its $4.98 a year offer, raising its one-year .com price to $9.95. Also moving to $9.95 this month is RegisterFly, which had previously been at $14.95.
VeriSign received the highest marks in an evaluation of the firms competing to maintain the .net top-level domain (TLD), and appears likely to keep the lucrative registry deal for another six years. The report by Telcordia is influential in the decision on the future of .net, and ICANN indicated it would "promptly enter negotiations with the top-ranked applicant."
The report (PDF) ranked VeriSign slightly ahead of Sentan, followed by Afilias, Denic and CORE++. ICANN will now enter into negotiations with VeriSign, which currently maintains the .com and .net registries. If a deal can't be reached, ICANN would then presumably turn to Sentan, a joint venture between Japan Registry Services and NeuLevel (which maintains the .biz registry). Telcordia's analysis said Sentan is a viable alternative to VeriSign, which in theory should motivate VeriSign to quickly conclude a deal with ICANN. The new registry agreement will take effect July 1.
Dotster is running keyword advertising on tens of thousands of .info domains it recently registered, creating an instant advertising platform that generates revenue for both Dotster and Google. The strategy marks a shift in registrars' efforts to leverage the huge numbers of customer domains "parked" on their servers, which have traditionally been used to market registrars' in-house offerings.
Dotster is converting these parked domains into revenue from text ads served by Google's AdSense for Domains program. The model doesn't always work perfectly, however, as seen at dotster.info, which displays ads for two Dotster competitors, Register.com and Go Daddy.