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When Technology Gets Commercial

February 27, 2015

Let’s face it.  Everything goes commercial eventually.  Part of this dumb Net Neutrality debate is all about the perception that the Internet is getting commercial.  After all, we wouldn’t want someone to build millions of dollars of infrastructure for their service if everyone else can’t just take advantage of it for free.  That totally goes against the fairly communist (small c) underpinnings of the Internet.

So why aren’t more people up in arms about the wholesale commercialization of DNS?

ICANN has been gradually auctioning off the different domains since June 2014 in what can be a competitive and expensive process (Dot Tech LLC spent $6.7 million on the “.tech” domain last year, reportedly beating out Google, which also bid).

Amazon bought “.buy” for nearly $5 million and “.spot” for $2.2 million last fall.

Comparatively, Google’s $25 million investment in “.app” looks pretty steep; it’s the most any company has paid in one of ICANN’s auctions so far.

Frankly, I don’t particularly care.  I, for one, don’t necessarily believe that technology is only there for technology’s sake.  It’s cool to build things, but it’s cooler that things people build can become a source of revenue for them over time.

So turning the entire domain name industry into a commercial enterprise is something that I’ve expected to see for a while.  After all, Tuvalu, a small island country, has made a fair amount of money selling off pieces of its .tv domain, even if nobody’s noticed.

But still, the tech community almost crashed the music industry over “free” music before Apple managed to broker peace.  And the Linux operating system move changed the whole business model over how operating system software, and all subsequent infrastructure pieces are monetized.  Well, sort-of monetized… nobody’s making any real money off open source yet, other than services.  Anyway, tech is supposed to be the great equalizer if you ask a lot of the geeks in charge.  I wonder how the big companies like Google and Amazon are getting away with going commercial on naming?

Partial answer… ICANN is the source of all IP redirection in the world, and I think most people who really know stuff in tech are terrified that it’s going to eventually run out of operating budget and have to sell off to a commercial company for maintenance.  So funding them from big companies is okay, as long as they don’t actually take them over.

Just interesting if you ask me…

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