The stakeholders, the press, casual onlookers, and the regulators discuss what should be the annual price for an ICANN controlled domain and who should set the terms. This is the model of a collective monopoly where there is one central authority giving the impression of taking input from the masses. The reality is that the only real input comes from the well-funded established players. Setting the rental price for a domain is decided by what gives the greatest return to the TLD operator which is the ideal model in a free market but abusive in a regulated monopoly. The only reason this debate continues is that a technological solution has not successfully been brought fourth.
The registrars, the TLD operators, and ICANN must maintain the illusion that they are the best and only choice for the one area of the web that requires regulation. This is truly an illusion. By maintaining the DNS system as is, with tweaks here and there for security or other issues, and keeping the focus on management issues, and new domain opportunities, their position is secure.
Bring forth the technology where domains from multiple TLDs are truly owned and not rented and the price regulation question becomes a non-issue.
When a domain owner has a choice of “MyDomain.TLDA” or “MyDomain.TLDB” and the aura of “.com” is lessened, then free market completion will set a good price.
Realities of today, outlook for tomorrow
The market in 2012 is clearly dominated by “.com” and that is not likely to change overnight. Credibility in the eyes of many is having a meaningful “.com” domain. Domain speculators don’t want to see this change as it dilutes the value of their holdings.
The realities of 2013 may be only a dent in the “.com” aura, but it will be a dent. The list of new IANA sanctioned TLDs coming online may be only as successful as “.biz” or “.info” but at least they will be available via ICANN’s root servers.
In subsequent years the general public will probably be as comfortable with “.shop”, “.rent”, “.own” as they were with “.com”. It is when the non-Internet savvy have become comfortable with the plethora of new TLDs that a particular TLD will lose its value. It may be that in years to come having a “.com” may be considered “so yesterday!”
Ownership changing the landscape
Domain rental fees may drop with the competition, but ICANN will still get their cut. Domain ownership, the ICANN alternative, can bring this competition to the fullest measure by bringing the annual rental to zero.
Just as the aura of “.com” will diminish, the exclusiveness of ICANN root based TLDs may have the same fate. The rootless technology behind ShofarDomain keeps the ICANN rooted TLDs working as before, but opens the door to a more generally accepted use of both alternate roots and rootless TLDs. The diagnostic tools introduced in November of 2012 show the change in mindset from looking to ICANN’s root first to looking at the TLD first for DNS services.
A regulated monopoly is not a free market and price setting is not competition. The rootless TLD technology behind ShofarDomain levels the playing field so that a new TLD from a fledgling organization in Pretoria is on the same footing Network Solutions with “.com”. This is the free market.