Like .ws and .to, the .ai extension appeared quite promising to make way for an increasing number of emoji domain registrations until today.
Coined as the abbreviated domain extension for “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” (or is that .ml? 🤔), many existing .ws and .to emoji domain owners, including creator of i❤️.ws — Jon Roig, took to registering a number of .ai single emoji domains.
Although intrigued by the .ai emoji domain offering and support, I personally found attempting to register .ai domains was quite costly ($100 account setup and 2-year minimum fee of $100 per domain) and labor intensive, seeing .ai domains was a one-show of manual domain registration and management.
And although I was rooting for .ai to successfully turn the corner as .ws and .to extensions have allowing emoji domains, it certainly came as no surprise to find out today that .ai has dropped supporting IDNs, including emoji domains. 😒
Based on Jon Roig’s tweet, he appears to have received a support email from the .AI registry stating the following (excerpt from email shared on Twitter):
We have upgraded to a new system using EPP so other registrars can sell “.ai” domains. This new system more strictly follows the rules for legal domain names and does not allow names with two dashes in a row. Some of your domains (listed below) had two dashes in a row and so are no longer legal domains. There are 3 ways we can deal with this:
The DNS for these names can keep working till they expire but you can not change name servers or sell the domains.
I can refund you $100 for each domain via PayPal and remove DNS.
I can refund by credit card but will do portion of time remaining. So if half the time remaining then $50 refund
Give you a balance of $110 for each on whois.ai you can use to buy other domains or renew domains.
It’s definitely bittersweet news based on how you view it.
On one hand, it’s good to see the .ai registry embrace and harness the power of EPP to grow their customer reach. It’s also good they’ve offered concessions (they say 3 ways but mention 4 ways) to emoji domain owners impacted by their business decision to discontinue IDN support, including emoji domains.
On the other, it’s sad to see .ai emoji domains be short-lived although this places focus back on .ws and .to extensions (which could be good long term in regards to increased emoji domain valuations).
I personally wouldn’t mind seeing the .ai registry allow current .ai emoji domain owners to keep possession of their forward-thinking virtual real estate, much like the .com emoji domain owners have been allowed to remain in possession.
Although new .ai emoji domain registrations are no longer possible, do you think .ai emoji domain owners should be allowed to keep and renew their .ai emoji domains for years to come?