Steven Forrest’s Free2Innovate speculates [ http://free2innovate.net/archives/000399.html ] on the reasons for SnapNames move to an auction based model for the sale of deleting domain names. He points out that I am a director of SnapNames and as such may be able to throw some light on things.
A couple of points. As a director I really can’t talk publicly without Board and Management agreement. So sorry, no insight on this from me.
However, I guess it’s OK to talk about the general area. Ross Raider and Elliot Noss from Tucows – http://byte.org – posted an article [ http://www.byte.org/blog/_archives/2004/9/3/135064.html ] on this area late last week. Their point is that the market is still evolving and that ultimately the registrant will need to be part of the bargain when a deleting name is sold, wehther by auction or some other method.
There is a great deal of change in the market for deleting names. This change is generally market driven and generally good. I believe that there is more to come. I do not think that WLS is nullified by these changes. However, I do believe that the business model for WLS [by which I mean, generically, a registry level delivered service through which the deleting names can be offered for resale by registrars] will have to evolve as a result of what the market has taught everybody.
The rapidity of the change is also a strong element in understanding why ICANN should really stay out of business model issues. WLS really should just be an agreement to create a market for deleting names. the specific models should be a market decision forged by all those in the space.
A centralized system still makes a lot of sense. The business model that was implied in WLS is probably revealed as outdated by the efforts of Pool, Dotster, eNom and now SnapNames. But a coherent, TLD wide solution for the resale of deleting names is still logical.
The only real challenge is economics. How to structure such a system in a manner that all players [registrants, registrars, registies] are fairly rewarded for thier role in the process. This is a matter for negotiation between the three entities. I believe the registry is best placed to start this dialogue and Ross and Elliot have, in a way, opened the way for that.
The next step is rational discussion between all sides. Probably bi-lateral at first and multi-lateral later. ICANN’s role will be to recognize any consensus that emerges, preferably quickly, so that the market can get on with what it does best – commerce.