A month after Australia's domain name regulator started to allow domains ending in .au to be on-sold, companies are attempting to auction Australian domains for as much as AU$1 million. However, buyers have remained reluctant to pay top-dollar for the internet addresses.
The deregulation has let sites such as Netfleet.com.au to attempt to auction sites like "mail.com.au" for amounts up to AU$1 million, along with other high profile domains such as "parramatta.com.au" for AU$75,000, and "ringwood.com.au" for AU$20,000.
Despite the high prices, Netfleet.com.au has only registered two sales, the largest being "photographers.com.au" for AU$5,000. The largest bid at the time of writing on "paramatta.com.au" was AU$100.
While the regulator, .au Domain Administration, started allowing the sale of domain names from 1 June this year, the regulator specifically stated that companies would not be allowed "to register a domain name for the sole purpose of resale or transfer to a third party" — a practice commonly known as cybersquatting.
Netregistry CEO Larry Bloch
Larry Bloch, CEO of Netregistry, one of Australia's largest domain name registers said that the system was bound to fail.
"Compared to the '.com' domain name space there isn't the economics to support ... the domain name after-market, which is largely driven by domain name monetisers," Bloch said.
According to Bloch this is because the number of visitors to ".com.au" domain names was smaller than for ".com" names, while the cost of registering them was higher. This left what Bloch termed "cyber-speculators", who registered common names in the hope that they would be worth more in future.
"These are the people who tend to think that domain names are worth a hell of a lot more than they actually are," Bloch said.