The .wed TLD could end up getting divorced from ICANN.
The .wed domain extension has always been a bit of an odd fish. The people behind it were convinced that their business model was viable and that people would want to register .wed domains in very high volumes. Because of this “demand” the registry’s pricing model made it prohibitive to register a .wed domain name for longer than 2 years.
For registrars .wed was never that attractive as the registry imposed some rather “special” terms. Kevin’s post covers them in some detail here. As things stand .wed still only has one registrar and a minuscule volume of registrations.
At peak .wed hit about 365 domains. Not 365 thousand. 365. That is not viable economically.
As of today the TLD appears to have around 42 active registrations. You don’t need to be a genius to realise that there is no way anyone can possibly make a viable business with that small a volume of registrations.
So maybe it’s time for .wed to give up gracefully and see if anyone else wants to pick up the pieces of their business model. (I doubt anyone would with the current policies)
As could be expected the .wedding TLD has, to borrow Kevin’s words, eaten their lunch. As of today .wedding sits on 12k+ domains and is being offered by more than 70 registrars spread across the globe.
Meanwhile in ICANN land .wed could easily end up having its contract terminated by ICANN for breaching most of the key provisions but most notably for failing to pay their bills.
Here’s the letter ICANN sent them yesterday:
As usual with an ICANN Compliance notice the registry can still fix things and continue to operate, however I sincerely doubt that they will. If nothing else they’re going to have issues paying their bills as their revenue levels are so low.
They’ve got about a month to resolve their issues before ICANN kicks off contract termination processes aka the full on divorce proceedings. At the moment they could still resolve their issues with couple’s counselling.
UPDATE: ICANN has now moved the .wed TLD to one of the “Emergency Back-End Registry Operators” (in this case Nominet). Apart from some tests and a couple of .brand TLDs that decided to quit this is the first time that ICANN is using this process. I doubt it will be the last. There are several other single string registry operators out there that are under a lot of pressure and while some might be able to sell their string to one of the bigger portfolio applicants (think Donuts) others won’t be able to.
The official line is that .wed triggered the EBERO as their whois was offline:
Registry operator, Atgron, Inc., which operates gTLD .WED, experienced a Registration Data Directory Services failure, and ICANN designated EBERO provider Nominet as emergency interim registry operator. Nominet has now stepped in and is restoring service for the TLD.
On the upside the TLD is very very small so the number of impacted 3rd parties is very small. Having said that if you were using a .wed domain name to run critical business functions then you wouldn’t care how many other .wed registrants there were out there.