In my opinion, the world can survive very well without a public WHOIS.
DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?
RW: I think the whole industry will have to make an effort to bring their products to the market in a way that is more understandable, simpler, and accessible without much (technical) know-how. In my opinion it is still far too difficult to register your own domain, then set up your own e-mail or create a new website. The subject of “digitisation” is currently on everyone's lips, but it has negative connotations; so a lot of work must be done to convert this to a more positive, beneficial impression. This involves domains and all associated products.
DP: 2019 will mark 5 years since the first new gTLDs came online. How do you view them now?
RW: All in all (apart from a few exceptions), positive hopes and expectations have not been realised. Many of the gTLD registries are still struggling to survive, and I have not seen any evidence of the frequently described “dotbrand” hype, so the new gTLDs will probably remain a “niche” for another year. The consolidation process will continue, both with the registries and the backend providers, but also with the registrars. A few gTLD's will be established on the market (and among users), many of the others will disappear again.
At the moment I do not see any need for a second round (at least from the demand side), but clearly some want to utilise their (technical and sales) scaling effects to offer new gTLDs as quickly as possible, and put them on the market.
DP: Are domain names as relevant now for consumers – business, government and individuals – as they have been in the past?
RW: A clear YES to this. If you look at the number of users of “social media”, such as FB or Instagram, there is a clear negative trend. It's not about either / or, but businesses in particular will develop a balanced “online strategy” and this includes their own website with one (or more) domains.
Of course, there is some saturation, but there is still enough global potential to increase awareness of domains and to secure growth over the long term.
Previous Q&As in this series were with EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here), with Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here), Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here), DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here), DENIC (here) and Internet.bs' Marc McCutcheon (here).
If you’d like to participate in this Domain Pulse series with industry figures, please contact David Goldstein at Domain Pulse by email to david[at]goldsteinreport.com.