Last week, we put out a press release announcing new pricing for top-level domain registry services. We called it "revolutionary." Really?
The Internet revolution proclaimed by ICANN last week will only happen if there are enough cool, useful, or experimental TLDs to justify the mantra of choice and innovation that accompanied the approval of new gTLD program. If it's more of the same old mush, it'll be like television: lots of channels, repetitive programming, stuffed with ads.
For the TLD space to flourish, we're going to need some inventors. And yet a variety of impediments conspire to keep innovators out, including a steep entry fee, a scary application, and hordes of consultants emphasizing every difficulty in order to get their price up.
It all looks very complicated and expensive from the outside. But it doesn't have to be that way. Yes, it's daunting, but so is going to college, or going on a date, things that people do it all the time. Getting a TLD is possible for anyone with intelligence, energy — and money. The ICANN pricing is fixed; the price for registry services and consulting is variable. That's why reasonable, clear, predictable pricing for registry services may be the difference between the difference between a starting a great new TLD and walking away.
In the end it's the cost of new gTLDs — not the complexity — that will deter smart and determined people. The 350-page applicant guidebook is (with effort) understandable; the ICANN acronyms are learnable; the application fillable. Except for the technical portion, every part of the ICANN application can be completed by anyone with decent business experience and a willingness to read and absorb the guidebook and accompanying materials. There will be a free support system: ICANN has a whole team set up to answer questions, and all the questions will be public, so that you can learn from other people's queries.
We can't change the ICANN fee, and we can't tell other service providers what to charge. But what we can do is take away a big question mark for applicants: how much will I be paying for registry services?
For a flat annual fee of $100,000, you can register as many names as you like, and we'll also provide you with the answers to the technical part of the application. For the smart determined entrepreneur, that may be 90% of the battle. And if you fit our criteria for disadvantaged applicants, our annual fee is only $50,000.
So why is Minds + Machines doing this? Simple: we want to lead the market to more rational pricing. We know that many small ccTLDs are run simply and efficiently, and that this is possible in the new gTLD world as well. We think we'll get more customers with reasonable, user-friendly pricing. Finally, because although registry service providers must operate to a high standard of reliability, the services are in the end automated and therefore should be cheaper in scale: the same dynamic that we see in all other parts of the Internet. We don't think that charging high prices by making registry services sound as if they're some kind of esoteric magic is a sustainable business model.
Minds + Machines, as well as the entire top-level domain space, will do better with more choice and innovation among new gTLDs. And a lot of that depends on price. Is our pricing revolutionary? If it helps create more choice and more innovative gTLDs, then it is.
About Minds + Machines
Minds + Machines (LSE:MMX) is a leading owner and operator of new generic Top Level Domains ("gTLDs"), and provides registry services to a range of high-profile clients. The Group also provides domain name services to consumers through its wholly owned registrar operations in the US and Europe. (Learn More)
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