Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Big Tech Could Emerge From Coronavirus Crisis Stronger Than Ever

Amazon is hiring aggressively to meet customer demand. Traffic has soared on Facebook and YouTube. And cloud computing has become essential to home workers.

While the rest of the economy is tanking from the crippling impact of the coronavirus, business at the biggest technology companies is holding steady — even thriving.

Amazon said it was hiring 100,000 warehouse workers to meet surging demand. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said traffic for video calling and messaging had exploded. Microsoft said the numbers using its software for online collaboration had climbed nearly 40 percent in a week.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/technology/coronavirus-facebook-amazon-youtube.html

EU plans ‘right to repair’ rules for phones and tablets

Manufacturers of phones, tablets and laptops will face legal obligations to make their products easier to repair and reuse, under a far-reaching recycling plan from the European Union executive.

The European commission wants to drastically increase recycling of electronic goods, which are often difficult to repair, replace batteries or upgrade. Less than 40% of electronic waste in the EU is thought to be recycled.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/eu-brings-in-right-to-repair-rules-for-phones-and-tablets

What Happens To A Brand With A .BRAND When They Change Their Company Name Asks Afnic’s Loïc Damilaville

What happens when a Brand changes its company name, which has a .brand new gTLD, such as through a takeover, merger or just a name change? There’s currently no quick process in place to allow them to obtain a new gTLD to reflect the change. This is one of the many issues raised by Loïc Damilaville, Market Research Manager at Afnic who manages the French ccTLD as well as 17 new gTLDs, in today’s Q&A looking at the year just gone and the year ahead.

Damilaville delves into many issues facing the industry including growth, or lack of growth, rates for top-level domains, the financial issues forcing some gTLD operators to sell their gTLDS, the vulnerability of some TLDs to Chinese domainers, future rounds of new gTLD applications, challenges faced by smaller TLDs, particularly new gTLDs. Here he’s concerned about how to get registrars to carry them and without a presence on platforms, Damilaville is also concerned about how the industry is flourishing for many of the established players, but quite hostile to newcomers and real innovations.

There’s a lot more in Damilaville’s Q&A, so please read on!

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2019 in the domain name industry, both for you and/or the industry in general?

Loïc Damilaville: In terms of trends, 2019 has seen the continuing decline of Legacy TLDs, apart from .COM which is enjoying an enviable – even if surprising – growth rate. Surprising because with its nearly 150 million domains it still grows by 5% a year. Is this single TLD “aspirating” the market? What is driving this growth?

“Penny TLDs”, that is to say TLDs whose domain names are “given” or sold at a very low price, have increased their volumes, but we doubt that these millions of domain names are actually used. They shall be considered as highly volatile and not relevant to assess the good or bad health of the market.

The market remains vulnerable to the domaining effect: in 2019, lots of Chinese domainers have transferred their investments from new gTLDs to .TW and this one has literally exploded in a few months. At the present time, we see the reverse effect with a .TW affected by deletions and a .ICU boosted, quite at the same time, by new creations. It may mean that these domaining waves are done by a relatively small number of coordinated big investors.

This phenomenon affects the stability of the market. For instance one may consider that new gTLDs have boomed at the end of 2019 but this boom is almost 100% caused by the .ICU effect, with most of the other new gTLDs experiencing a decrease in their new registrations. A global improvement in volumes doesn’t mean that most of the players are doing well.

This situation drives some registries faced with financial difficulties to sell their TLDs to big players which are also fighting increasingly on the back-end registry market. What is interesting as regards to these back-end activities is that they are researched not only by registries of small TLDs unable to get some costly technologies and infrastructures by themselves, but also by registries of very big TLDs, maybe for the same reasons, with a difference of scale. This is the sign of a kind of professionalisation of the market, but also of a concentration process, with a handful of players on the worldwide level. On the local or regional level, lots of middle-sized players are managing some geoTLDs and/or .BRAND TLDs.

The concentration continues at the registry and registrar levels, some back-ends being both of them. This phenomenon requires (and is allowed by) the growing presence of investment funds in the capital of these players. Although made with dubious methods, the .ORG takeover by Ethos Capital is just one example of this structural evolution of the market.

The Second Round is a topic, but more an icy one than a hot one. We should wait for Winter to leave ;-).

Among the very hot topics of 2019 we have noticed security issues, fights against all kind of DNS abuses, the painful consequences of GDPR for the IP community, and the emergence of services combining data, monitoring and qualification of domain names in terms of notoriety, risks etc.

Referring to our “7As” model (*) we shall consider that 2019 has not seen great improvements in Awareness, Amplitude, Advantages, Access, Adoption, Activity nor Affect. The domain name market may be a little too self-oriented and that could explain some of the difficulties met by new TLDs to “meet their market”.

We have developed a key success factors for Internet extensions  evaluation grid which you can see here: htttps://www.afnic.fr/en/resources/blog/key-success-factors-for-internet-extensions-an-evaluation-grid-1.html

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2020?

LD: The main trends of the market should remain the same: decline in Legacy gTLDs, and maybe a 4 percent growth for .COM due to their forecast price increase.

ccTLDs will be affected by the .TW and .UK deletes, but apart from this phenomenon the growth should not be above 3-4%.

New gTLDs will still be split between high volumes generic TLDs and the others. Geos seem to be stronger than Communities and little Generics but the average volume remains low. Brands will continue to progress slowly but surely. They are the most promising segment of this market.

Security, monitoring and data issues will have more and more audience in relation with the DNS Abuse efforts. Tools designed to manage the GDPR limitations will enjoy a strong interest since the needs for identifying and tracking “abusers” have not vanished, those “abusers” feeling encouraged by the anonymity guaranteed by GDPR and the failure of ICANN to provide any reliable, quick and low-cost solution to rights owners.

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

LD: The big challenge for domain names is to exist by themselves, that is to say, to be actually perceived by users as added-value components of their internet presence and not just something technical, necessary to be reached on the internet, whether it is a .COM, .FR or .ANYTHING.

Another big challenge is for the registrars to find their way into a more diversified domain name world. One of the main burdens for new gTLDs is to reach their potential customers, a task they can’t do if they are not referenced by the registrars which actually reach these customers. But registrars seem to lack enthusiasm to sell new gTLDs which are not at first sought by their customers, and a vicious circle is in force: big registrars proposes to their customers the TLDs they already know (and buy), and the new gTLDs are kept in the shadows and not bought as the customers don’t know them very well and do not trust them.

We may also mention the “Next Round” as a challenge for the ICANN Community, but – in relation with what precedes – also for the market players in general. In the current organisation of the market, more generic TLDs will create only more confusion without being able to reach their customers. The situation of .BRANDs and .GEOs are very different because in both cases the “market” already exists: big companies will become used to consider that having their own TLD is a “must have”. And GeoTLDs are appealing to the feelings of proximity and local pride of their “natural” customers.

This leads to another big challenge. Apart from the high-volume oriented ones, the new or future TLDs will be more and more focused on niches, whether they be geographical or sectorial. This means that we will see a lot of TLDs with very low volumes compared to those we are used to see. In order to allow them to be financially viable, there MUST be a deep thought about the global financial organisation of the market.

At the ICANN level, the $25,000 flat fee is a burden that strangles many little TLDs and obliges them to sell their domain names at uncompetitive prices compared to .COM and big ccTLDs.

At the back-end level, things are more difficult to analyse but we should see in the future the emergence of some low-cost solutions targeting little TLDs and some value-added solutions targeting big TLDs or TLDs wanting to propose very specific services to their registrants. The homogeneous market as we know it nowadays is probably condemned but the transition to new models will take a long time. The growing influence of financial people in the management of TLDs should be an opportunity by providing some new means, but it can also be a threat because innovations may imperil the forecasted Return on Investment rates. When you buy a cash cow, you do not want it to become a risky bet.

DP: What progress do you see on a new round of applications for new gTLDs in 2020?

LD: There will be progress but it would be hazardous to say that everything should be settled at the end of the year. One main question – that is not addressed by the focus on process – is to ask what kind of «new round» we really want, and basically if we want a «round» or a continuous process.

It seems very logical and strategically important to allow the .BRANDs to benefit from a special, expedited and permanent process as soon as the candidates are eligible to certain rules avoiding «optimization» by some «smart» guys. There are lots of reasons in favour of this special process: these TLDs are for internal use only, and since the big companies are often changing their names, creating some new trademarks, etc., they should be able to change their .BRANDs when they need to do so. For the time being, having a .BRAND is a strategic strength if you intend to keep the same name for the next decades, but it can also become a trap if you are obliged to change your company’s name because of a merger or any other event.

The Geo-TLDs should also be allowed fast procedures if they are requested by legitimate authorities.

The fact that ICANN is only able to provide a «round» every ten years is not a proof of its efficiency. That said, we are aware that it depends strongly on its own Community and should not be considered the only responsible of these delays.

DP: What one thing would you like to see addressed or changed in the domain name industry?

LD: Lots of the points we could address have already been talked about. The main issue is that some problems or deficiencies, or even some threats to some players, are benefitting others, and reciprocally. The situation of the domain name industry results mostly from compromises built through power relations between its members and their «external» partners such as governments, right owners, customers etc.

These compromises are not fully optimal and many of them are so weak that they are constantly challenged by the dissatisfied parties. One may remark that it is the story of life: but the parties involved should make an effort to reach a long-term win-win deal more than seeking for deals which only protect their own interests in the short term.

The global situation for this market – still flourishing for the established players, but quite hostile to newcomers and real innovations – would be improved by a new approach of the challenges it faces. It is still waiting for its «New Deal» and will probably still wait for a long time, not for the better.

Previous Q&As in this series were with:

Q&As in the 2019 series were with:

  • EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here)
  • Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here)
  • Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here)
  • DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here)
  • DENIC (here)
  • Internet.bs’ Marc McCutcheon (here)
  • nic.at’s Richard Wein (here)
  • Neustar’s George Pongas (here)
  • CentralNic’s Ben Crawford (here)
  • CIRA’s David Fowler (here)
  • Jovenet Consulting’s Jean Guillon (here)
  • GGRG’s Giuseppe Graziano (here)
  • Blacknight Solutions’ Michele Neylon (here)
  • Public Interest Registry’s President and CEO Jon Nevett (here)
  • ICANN board member Chris Disspain (here).

200 Million New IPv4 Addresses to Enter Market: What to Expect? : Heficed

At the end of 2019, the US government passed a new bill authorising the Department of Defence to sell around 200 million Internet Protocol 4th version addresses. Several blocks of IPv4 addresses are planned to be sold out in ten years. Vincentas Grinius, CEO of Heficed, explains how these changes might affect the IP address market

[news release] The US Department of Defence announced the sale of around 200 million IPv4 addresses in multiple large and medium blocks. According to Vincentas Grinius, CEO of Heficed – the IP address infrastructure service provider, the new addresses would decrease the current IPv4 pricing, but would not solve the IPv4 shortage for certain market players. 

How would this Department of Defence sale affect the IP address market in the upcoming years?

Potential Buyers – Do Small Companies Stand a Chance?

New release of IPv4 addresses will be sold in big and medium-sized blocks, and since the Department of Defence has a deadline, they are focusing on large buyers. Large companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, or Google are always looking to grow their IP address databases, which would make them potential buyers.

“The biggest incumbents in the market are always looking to buy more IP addresses. As the number of IPv4 addresses is facing depletion, and we are slowly transitioning to IPv6, corporations are more eager to collect as many IPv4s as possible. At the same time, released addresses are contained in large bulks, which doesn’t give many chances for smaller buyers and brokers to obtain their fair share. Therefore, I believe that we will end up with a few major corporations acquiring everything.” – Vincentas Grinius expressed his concerns.

Do More Addresses Mean Lower Prices?

With new releases entering the market, companies are promised to see lower IPv4 prices. However, if only a few major buyers acquire it, the market might not face significant price changes.

“Due to IPv4 address exhaustion, prices have been rising for a while now. As the average price in 2015 was around 6 dollars, in 2018, the price for a single IPv4 address reached 17 dollars, and it’s predicted that this number will only grow and double in upcoming years. It’s possible that the Department of Defence bill could bring positive changes and lower IPv4 prices, yet if these addresses are shared only among a few big corporations, we probably wouldn’t even notice it.” – said Vincentas Grinius.

Risks of IP Address Abuse

Many IP addresses are linked to spamming, hacking, and similar vicious activities. Companies create blacklists to contain abuse, but the more addresses enter the internet, the more difficult it gets. Vincentas Grinius believes that potential buyers – large corporations could help solve the issue, “Although every address holder can abuse their usage rights, it becomes more challenging to control it with the surge of new addresses. However, if only large and well-known corporations obtain new IPv4 addresses, the chances of IP address abuse can be monitored easier.”

New IPv4 release might shake up the market. However, it possesses both positive and negative outcomes. New IPv4 addresses postpone the transition to IPv6 and give us more time to prepare. Yet with more affordable and accessible options, the chances of IP address abuse might increase. And if large incumbents acquire most of the blocks, we might not see significant changes.

ABOUT HEFICED

With its headquarters in London and server locations in every continent, Heficed is a network engineering and infrastructure service offering IP Address Market platform, including cloud solutions and bare-metal servers. At the core of Heficed‘s business is its world‘s first automated IPv4 address infrastructure engineering platform, which streamlines the process of leasing and managing IP addresses. www.heficed.com

Microsoft makes ‘carbon negative’ pledge

Microsoft has pledged to remove “all of the carbon” from the environment that it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975.

Chief executive Satya Nadella said he wanted to achieve the goal by 2050 .

To do so, the company aims to become “carbon negative” by 2030, removing more carbon from the environment than it emits.

That goes beyond a pledge by its cloud-computing rival Amazon, which intends to go “carbon neutral” by 2040.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51133811

Also see:

Microsoft pledges to remove more carbon than it produces by 2030
Microsoft on Thursday announced plans to remove more carbon than it emits by the end of the decade, a pledge that addresses the climate-change crisis more aggressively than many of its tech rivals.

The software giant, which announced the initiative at an event at its headquarters, also plans to remove all the carbon emissions it has generated since its founding in 1975 by 2050.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/01/16/microsoft-climate-change-pledge/

Microsoft: ‘carbon-negative’ by 2030 even for supply chain
Microsoft is pledging to become 100% “carbon-negative” by 2030 by removing more carbon from the environment than it emits.

CEO Satya Nadella said Thursday that the commitment will happen “not just across our direct emissions, but across our supply chain, too.”
https://apnews.com/17f056941a078fccede72b12236f6d6f

Can Microsoft's 'moonshot' carbon goal succeed?
Tech giant Microsoft has announced two bold ambitions: firstly, to become carbon negative by the year 2030 – meaning it will be removing more carbon from the air than it emits – and secondly, to have removed more carbon by 2050 than it has emitted, in total, in its entire history.

In an interview with the BBC's Chris Fox, Microsoft president Brad Smith admitted that the plan was a “moonshot” – a very big idea with no guaranteed outcome or profitability – for the company.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51149014

Apple and Google named in US lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths

A landmark legal case has been launched against the world’s largest tech companies by Congolese families who say their children were killed or maimed while mining for cobalt used to power smartphones, laptops and electric cars, the Guardian can reveal.

Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla have been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Washington DC by human rights firm International Rights Advocates on behalf of 14 parents and children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The lawsuit accuses the companies of aiding and abetting in the death and serious injury of children who they claim were working in cobalt mines in their supply chain.
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/dec/16/apple-and-google-named-in-us-lawsuit-over-congolese-child-cobalt-mining-deaths

Also see:

Apple shareholders set to vote on human-rights policies
Apple shareholders are set to vote on whether Apple should change its human-rights policies.

They will be asked whether they want Apple to make a commitment to respect freedom of expression.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50807372

Domain Pulse 2020 Conference Going to Innsbruck To Gaze Into A Crystal Ball [updated]

The annual free domain name conference of the German-speaking world, Domain Pulse, is heading to the North Tyrolean Alps city of Innsbruck in Austria in February 2020 with the organisers looking towards the future, asking attendees to “gaze into the crystal ball together” with them.

Day 1 is dedicated to the question of what future will bring in terms of technology, internet governance and the world of work – and where the forecasts come from! On the second day, we will highlight the issue of risk – how much are we prepared to take in our personal lives, careers and as a society? And at what price?

The presentations will focus on the future of internet governance, the talents of tomorrow, does the domain name system tell us anything about the future, artificial intelligence, looking forward with 5G and its challenges in particular relating to surveillance and citizen’s rights and what should ccTLD registries expect in the future.

This year’s Domain Pulse conference (which is not related to the DomainPulse.com domain name news site) will be held on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February. In 2020 the conference is organised by the Austrian ccTLD manager nic.at, with the conference rotating to be hosted by DENIC in 2021 in Germany, then by SWITCH in Switzerland in 2022.

For presentations in German, there will be a simultaneous translation service into English, but not for presentations in English into German. However given that networking is as important as the conference topics, it can still be extremely worthwhile to attend.

To register, book hotels, check out the agenda and find out more information in general, go to: domainpulse.at/dp2020. There are plenty of trains passing through Innsbruck and a number of airlines fly to Innsbruck. Conference hotels start at €120 per night, plus there’s the always wonderful Thursday evening event.

UPDATE: This article was updated to reflect a misunderstanding regarding translations. There will be translations of presentations into English from German, but not for German presentations into English. The original version of this article said there would be no translations.