50,000 Free id.au Names Released
by Jenny Sinclair
Australians will be able to get personal web addresses and email in the id.au name space for free with yesterday's release of 50,000 free registrations.
The catch is that the free registration lasts only six months, after which a fee will apply.
Adrian Kinderis, general manager for sales and marketing of national registry AusRegistry, said the company hoped the giveaway would kick-start interest in the name space.
At the end of the first year of the new domain naming system, which made id.au available after a long freeze, only 2500 of the personal names had been registered, rising to about 3000 on the most recent check.
Kinderis said that now the domain names were free, with email forwarding attached, he expected the free pool of 50,000 names to last "not very long at all".
Several leading registrars (who sell the names on behalf of AusRegistry) have developed campaigns to capture a slice of the personal domain name market.
Id.au names are not expected to be big earners by themselves. A 5 two-year wholesale fee is split 4 to AusRegistry and 1 to domain administrator auDA, with many registrars charging about 5 to 0 a year on top of that.
But Kinderis said the registry was keen to see people using the Australian space rather than the competing .name global domain.
Registrars are moving to create new services around the names to boost their profits.
NetRegistry is setting up free mailboxes as well as forwarding and has developed an online photo album that will be bundled with the free names.
NetRegistry chief executive Larry Bloch said that although he had been sceptical about id.au, and consumers were hard to sell domain names to, his company was committed to the new marketing push.
As well as charging a higher fee to maintain the photo albums and other id.au services after the free period, NetRegistry hopes to sell the platform it has developed to support the services to corporate customers.
Bottle Domains has struck a deal to supply bulk id.au names to the staff of ANZ Bank, partly in order to keep personal email use separate from work.
(Registrars will still be entitled to add a mark-up to the free names but will not be deemed "participating registrars" by NetRegistry unless they sell.)
Only about one in 10 of the names are expected to "convert" to paid accounts, Kinderis said, a figure backed by Bloch.