The most expensive virtual shop in the world?

By Stuart Fuller


One of the hottest contended new gTLDs was finally settled yesterday but at a cost of $41.5 million. Ever since the results of the new gTLD applications were revealed in June 2011, the ownership of the dotShop gTLD had been in the spotlight. After Google bought dotApp for $25 million at auction in 2015, estimations of the value of this TLD had been talked about at length, especially with nine parties at the table, all eager to develop their own business model.

Despite Amazon, Donuts and Google vying for the name, it was Japanese registry, GMO, who emerged victors and in the process made this the most expensive known new gTLD sold to date. GMO currently run the GeoTLDs for Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Yokohama as well as their own dotBrand, dotGMO.

According to GMO’s dotShop application, dotShop will be an open, unrestricted namespace. Should they make the name affordable, around the $20 per annum mark, it would take 2,075,000 registrations to get a return on their investment which isn’t out of the question. However, GMO have hinted that they may make value-added services available to registrants which could increase their revenues. These may include security measures such as SSL, payment integration or even shopping-cart software.

With most major brands now offering e-commerce capabilities, the provision of dotShop names should be a serious consideration for all of them both from an opportunity and a risk point of view. It would be very easy for a cybercriminal to register a dotShop in a major brand’s name and then quickly set up a website that could be used for nefarious purposes that may only come to light once a number of customers have been duped, or a brand holder discovers the infringing domain name, by which time reputational damage will have occurred. For the sake of a small investment, it is surely worth any brand being safe than sorry.

With the future of dotShop and dotShopping (won by Uniregistry last week) now resolved, brand holders can start to formalise strategies that include leveraging these e-commerce focused new gTLDs. Slowly but surely the final contention sets are being resolved. Attention will now turn to the future of dotWeb where seven remaining applicants will battle it out to determine who will run this highly-anticipated gTLD.