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Re: [registrars] Competition: was Compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding between ICANN and DoC

  • To: "Bruce Tonkin" <Bruce.Tonkin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Re: [registrars] Competition: was Compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding between ICANN and DoC
  • From: Eric Brunner-Williams <brunner@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 15:46:24 +0000
  • Cc: "Bhavin Turakhia" <bhavin.t@xxxxxxxxxxx>, registrars@xxxxxxxx, brunner@xxxxxxxxxxx
  • In-reply-to: Your message of "Wed, 19 May 2004 21:03:56 +1000." <AFEF39657AEEC34193C494DBD717922203D1EE9E@phoenix.mit>
  • Sender: owner-registrars@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Some objective observer, say from Mount Olympus, or a consumer watchdog
entity, should attempt to "view[ed] from the perspective of the consumer"
whatever is being bandied about as "competition".

Back when ICANN was in the process of deciding if there should be any new
TLDs, in WG-C I posted a "what if" ... what if MicroSoft bundled a unit of
registrar service in their operating system product? More generally, what
will happen to the domain name profit centers, registrars and registries,
when MS and AOL decide to offer domain name (provisioning or publication,
or both) products and services? Is NSI, even VGRS, still in business when
the dust settles? I didn't think so then. I still don't.

So, even if the entire new-entity / Ira Magaziner / post-monopoly policy
wasn't expressed explicitly as business competition, not "the perspective
of the consumer (see above about who can form that perspective), we'd all
be latent dodos (extinct species of fowl) if we put imaginary consumer
concerns ahead of our own. Why shouldn't 95% of all domain buys be via a
bundled "registration", and be cash-back for that matter? Why shouldn't a
name in spam-free, ICANN-constrained, public-trust, pro-bono managed new
gTLD or re-purposed ccTLD be via a bundled "registration", and be cash-back
too for that matter?

The market share of domain name users who care, let alone know to check,
that a name is published by more than one nameserver, not sharing the same
subnet prefix, is not large. Since you gave a milk-and-bread example, here
in Portland there are two daries, Oakhurst and Hood. Oakhurst markets milk
having no BGH (bovine growth hormones), which caused BGH manufacturer Monsanto
to sue Oakhurst. Oakhurst and Hood both sell the same product, unit size,
unit price, reseller channels, etc. The competition, the effectiveness of
the marketing campaign, lies somewhere else than "choice" (non-Portland
based dairys, from Vermont, as well as store-label product) and price. Do
you want some BGH with your corn flakes?

Incidently, milk in the US isn't priced at "what the most efficient
operator could possibly achieve", there are subsidies, price floors and
so on. Milk is also given away by government, as are cheese products, in
fact "commodity cheese" is a staple of Indian humor, and reservation
diets (inspite of the fact that most of us are lactose intolerent ;-> )

So I want to share that I think a blanket rejection of Bhavian's points,
the rational points of an actor who has a business interest in selling one
turn-key solution to actors entering this market, is unwise.

That's the point I wanted to get across -- that we are regulated by some
issue(s) other than price, and an analytic framework that defined competition
as "from a consequence-indifferent acquisition-engine perspective" (rather
like the "can-I-buy-1,000-names-wicked-cheap-cause-I-want-to-spam-and-I-
don't-care-if-each-name-resolves-longer-than-a-couple-of-days" propositions
I get from time to time) tends towards fragility and adverse consequences,
and is only one claimant to the throne of "objective analysis".

You have my respect, but on this point we differ.

Postmodernly yours,

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