Before we begin, we would like to reiterate that Punycode.com has no affiliation with Register.to, Tonic.to, or anybody associated with the ".to" extension. We neither profit nor gain anything of monetary value from .to registrations. Our sole purpose today as always is to give you the best advice we would give our own best friends so you, too, can avoid making costly mistakes.
As you know, Punycode.com offers premium single-character emoji domains in .com, .net, and .to. They are suitable for major corporations or businesses looking to enhance their branding. However, if you want to register new, unregistered emoji domains, you cannot currently register them in .com or .net. You can only register them in the following country code top-level domain (ccTLD) extensions: .ai, .cf, .ga, .gq, .ml, .tk, .to, and .ws.
Three items to note regarding these extensions.
First, the extension .ai has just recently been opened for emoji domain registration. You can do so at whois.ai (but wait until you read the next item). Thus, in addition to the extension .to that had been widely promoted in mid-August 2017, .ai has since joined the list.
Below is one such .ai emoji domain, ☯.ai (xn--w4h.ai), and it is simply a parked website owned by a domain name re-seller:
As of September 22, 2017, other .ai emoji domains that have been registered so far are ✈.ai and ⌚.ai. Interestingly, Punycode.com has their .com version: ☯.com, ✈.com, and ⌚.com. Some emojis are universally appealing.
Second, don't get too excited about new extensions being made available. Although ".ai" might stand for "artificial intelligence" for numerous text domains, with the limited set of emojis, almost all of them are completely unrelated to artificial intelligence. In other words, .ai is essentially a meaningless extension -- as meaningless as .cf, .tk, or .ws.
There are a few exceptions that apply to the country's locality such as [maple leaf emoji].ca and the rare connection such as [peach emoji].ga or [robot emoji].ai.
Luckily, what is also an exception is the entire ".to" extension proper, because it connotes a "go to" meaning. Emoji domains are often used for email or social media marketing and re-directs, and thus the intuitive .to domain would supremely serve its purpose. In practice, major corporations like Amazon, Dell, and McDonald's have employed .to for years.
When entrepreneur Marc Köhlbrugge helped to open up the .to extension to the public in mid-August 2017, most of the single-character emoji domain registrants were much like himself: entrepreneurs, creators, and artists. Hence, registered .to emoji domains will likely be developed and grow in stature in the future. Other extensions don't have this unique mix of people, but consist mostly of passive domain investors and parkers, as illustrated by ☯.ai.
Even if all 255 ccTLDs were to open up for emoji domain registrations, would you try to register emojis in all of those ccTLDs? If so, you would waste a lot of time and money. Instead, have a sound, focused strategy on how and what you should register and make the most of your limited time and money.
And third, if indeed the trend continues that more extensions will be made available, how valuable will .cf emoji domains be? How valuable will .tk emoji domains be? How valuable will .ws emoji domains be?
In general, the valuation of ccTLD emoji domains, with the exception of .to, will decrease for domainers. If .com registration comes out, it is game over. As an investor, why would you take on such risks? If you are going to invest in emoji domains, invest in .com, .net, or at the very least .to.
Of course if you're a talented end user or developer of an emoji domain, the value will hold regardless of the extension. Most of its worth is derived from your hard work and the value you add to the domain. But if you are going to invest your time, money, and energies on an emoji domain, wouldn't you want them poured into the best extension possible?
Therefore, until non-ccTLDs are opened for emoji domain registration, especially in .com, .net, and .org, we highly recommend that you stick with only the ".to" extension if you want to register new emoji domains.
Over time and in the future, you will see (if you can't already) that these intuitive ".to" emoji domains hold their value quite nicely -- in your eyes and the eyes of others -- regardless of whether you are a developer or domainer.
We are being facetious with today's blog title. Sort of.
As much as Punycode.com informs companies about the immense value of emoji .com domains for their marketing and communication efforts, not everything has to be about business.
We offer emoji domains from the silly ...
... to the sleepy ...
... to the hungry:
As you can see, they are in the intuitive ".to" extension. This extension is much more affordable to own than the ".com" extension, which are generally purchased by major corporations seeking to be category killers in their industry.
Speaking of killers, we would like to use our love of tigers to illustrate how one personal interest can be shared using emoji domains.
Some people love lions because they are the King of the jungle ...
... but there isn't a more beautiful yet fearsome creature than the tiger:
First of all, we like the tiger emoji domain in the ".to" extension because of the double "t" sound alliteration.
As far as the tiger itself, it should come as little surprise to learn that the tiger is quite popular with people. In a 2004 poll conducted by the television channel, Animal Planet, the tiger was ranked #1, narrowly beating the dog, as the world's most favorite animal. The tiger won with 21% of the 52,755 viewers who voted.
Needless to say, at least 10,902 Animal Planet viewers have never been mauled by a tiger before.
Similar to the lion, the tiger also has a royal lineage. In Chinese culture, that lineage is written on the tiger's face:
[In Chinese culture], the tiger represents the masculine principle in nature and is king of all the animals, as shown by the four stripes on his forehead, which form the character Wang (王), or King."
With emoji domains, tigers can be approachable as well:
Whichever tiger emoji domain is chosen, we can share with people why we like all tigers, all the time.
For example, we can discuss the need for more tiger conservation due to its diminishing wild habitat, and at the same time, show off our maki-e tiger fountain pens:
So what is your interest? For instance, you are of Irish descent and you want to show off your heritage ...
... or your love of Jesus Christ ...
... or your love of a different kind of "turning the cheek":
Whatever it is you are in "to," we at Punycode.com make it our business to enable you to share your personal interest using a visual, catchy, and very different domain.
With the completion of our ☯.com domain sale last week on September 11, 2017, Punycode.com has been involved in the top three highest emoji domain sales in history: ☁.com, ☯.com, and ☮.com. They were sold for $13,600, $11,201, and $3,807, respectively.
Despite this achievement, we believe these prices are just the beginning. For instance, this month Punycode.com had been offered $20,000 for our ☮.com domain, which we declined, but would have made the sale the highest amount ever paid for an emoji domain.
Our sales track record reflects our passion for emoji domains. We love them! We think about them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no one more dedicated to the success of emoji domains in the long term than Punycode.com.
As such, we have a few things to say to correct the misinformation and lack of education about emoji domains. With this blog entry today, we want to explain three facts that will help you be more informed about emoji domains and make better decisions about them. We learned these lessons the hard way, so benefit from our experience and be up to speed.
FACT #1: Registration of emoji ".com" domains is still plausible in the future
The 33 rare emoji .com domains still in existence that were registered in the early 2000s have been grandfathered in, but currently, no emoji domains can be registered under the .com extension.
But will .com ever be open to more emoji domain registrations in the future? It is quite probable and our explanation below is why.
When ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) published their report recommending that emoji domains not be allowed on May 25, 2017 (the very date of our purchase of the ☮.com emoji domain), it would seem an open-and-shut case for future emoji .com domains.
After all, their recommendation was clear and explicit: "The SSAC strongly discourages the registration of any domain name that includes emoji in any of its labels."
The SSAC's arguments were understandable. Unicode's skin tone modifiers and similar emojis -- across different platforms -- can arguably cause user confusion. Thus, such users would be susceptible to homograph and phishing attacks.
In the above graphic, can you differentiate the middle skin tones if you were presented with their respective emoji domains separately? It would seem quite a challenge to remember the specific skin tone color to be certain you are at the right website address. Hence, that is why punycode is so critical to prevent spoofing and other similar problems.
In the above graphic, can you tell the difference in the various smiling faces if you were presented with their respective emoji domains separately? Like the skin tones, we think an average person cannot remember which is which when viewing or inputting a specific smiling face emoji on the web browser. Again, punycode will be key to ensure users that they are indeed at the right website.
As if that wasn't enough, there are particular emojis, such as the lock emoji, that can be used nefariously:
In the graphic above, instead of being at Paypal.com, a trusted website to make purchases, you could possibly be at xn--paypal-hj64e.com (in its punycode form), which displays a lock emoji and then the letters Paypal.com.
Having said all that, why do we still believe that emoji .com domains will be made available for registration in the future?
First, because there are ways to limit the risks already presented. One suggestion that has been proposed by many people is to exclude skin modifiers. Another suggestion is to exclude emojis that could be dangerous for users, such as the lock emoji.
Second, even without the simple changes above, Unicode has already weighed in on the security risks of emojis, and among their arguments is this one:
According to data from Google the removal of symbols and punctuation in IDNA2008 reduces opportunities for spoofing by only about 0.000016%, weighted by frequency. In another study at Google of a billion web pages, the top 277 confusable URLs used confusable letters or numbers, not symbols or punctuation."
In other words, the top risks of web attacks don't even come from emojis but rather letters and numbers that are currently allowed by ICANN!
So if emojis aren't a top security risk, and the top security risks are already allowed by ICANN, why are emojis singled out to be excluded? There seems to be an inconsistent application of policy by the web governing body.
Unicode's assessment seems accurate in real-world practice. The first emoji domain names were registered under .com in back in 2001 and then later .la, .ws, and .to extensions in early 2010s -- and so for over 15 years, there has been little news of web security attacks that used emoji domains. In short, "nothing blew up and the world didn't end."
Again, punycode has a large part in preventing these attacks, and would mitigate many security concerns that ICANN has. There is no reason why punycode can't continue to be in place if .com emoji domains are open for registration. New emoji domains in .com would be no less safe than the current .com, .net, .to, and .ws emoji domains already online for a good number of years now.
You can find a more technical explanation at Names.of.London's excellent article, "It's Time to Allow Emoji Domain Names." We highly recommend you read it in full. Names.of.London provided an enlightening historical account of why and how emojis were excluded by ICANN in their IDNA2008 standard update.
The very reasoning used in that historical account, along with new developments since IDNA2008 -- e.g., "since Unicode 6.0 there has been a specific definition of Emoji Characters" -- emoji domains could logically be made available again.
FACT #2: You can currently own emoji domains in a variety of extensions, not only in .ws
People who peddle the ".ws" extension will try to tell you that this extension is the "standard" of emoji domains. These people range from the registration purveyors trying to tempt you with cheap .ws emoji domains at GoDaddy for $4.99 to those who re-sell registered .ws domains.
First, what they don't tell you is that you can currently register ".to" emoji domains. (There are also .cf, .ga, .gq, .ml, and .tk extensions under the Freenom registrar, but we don't recommend them due to their lack of support and, like .ws, the meaningless extension names themselves.)
Second, what they don't tell you is emoji domains are so new that barely anyone even knows they exist, much less common enough for a standard to have been set.
And third, what they don't tell you is the renewal fee for those cheap .ws domains with privacy will be at least $44.98:
So be cautious when you see GoDaddy's introductory $4.99 price. Keeping your emoji domain will be 10 times as much next year and beyond.
For that same $45 price, you can register ".to", a more intuitive extension at Register.to. Because .to is a newer extension for emoji domains, you would more likely have a wider selection of emojis to choose from. And instead of GoDaddy enticing you to register and then nickel and diming you on the basic domain features, Register.to includes all those features such as privacy and URL and email forwarding in their single $45 price.
(In case you are wondering, we have absolutely no affiliation with Register.to, nor do we profit from their sales whatsoever. We simply like their straightforward dealings and clean website interface.)
In comparison, Website.ws charges $15 a year for privacy and $49 a year for URL and email forwarding:
If you add it all up, you would end up paying a whopping $99 a year to keep one .ws emoji domain!
To us, Register.to is more upfront and transparent with you regarding their simple pricing than GoDaddy and Website.ws, which reflects how intelligent they view their customers.
We expect most people who already registered the 21,000 emoji domains cheaply under .ws will not renew next year. In contrast, the people who registered for $45 this year at Register.to are more likely to keep their emoji domains next year, because the price is exactly the same next year. Register.to also offer discounts for multiple-year registrations, e.g., there is a 20 percent discount if you register for five years.
In addition to the .to extension, you can also purchase registered emoji domains in .com and .net. The extensions .com and .net are a necessity for companies to maintain their reputation and leadership position. In practice, .ws is unprofessional and lacks prestige. The .ws indicates to an online user that the company cannot afford a proper extension like a .com or .net. The .to is much more palatable with their "go to" connotation, especially for redirects in marketing campaigns on social media, which large corporations (Amazon, NBC News, Uber, etc) have employed for many years.
In the future when more extensions open up (as presented in Fact #1), what do you think will happen to the value of .ws emoji domains? We firmly believe the value will be significantly diminished as it already has after .to came out in mid-August 2017. Values for .ws single-character domains according to recent auctions have gone down 75 percent from just three months ago. That is why we at Punycode.com don't recommend owning .ws because, ultimately, people would be unhappy owning them over time.
FACT #3: Emojis are used by virtually everyone, not only young people
When people think about emojis, they automatically think of teenagers texting silly cartoon faces to each other. However, according to Adweek magazine, 92 percent of all users online use emojis. Even dictators in rigged elections can't achieve that high of a percentage!
Thus, research shows that age is not a factor in emoji usage. Almost anyone who has ever received text messages from his or her parents can attest to this.
So why is there such a massive proliferation of emoji usage by both young and old? The mobile revolution. Smart phones since 2014 have eclipsed both laptops and desktops combined:
In other words, emojis are popular partly because inputting emojis on mobile phones is a breeze -- emojis are built into almost all smart phone keyboards.
Not only are there more mobile phone users online, but also people on average spend more time on their cell phones online each day (71 percent of total daily online minutes) than on other connected devices like computers.
Therefore, critics who focus on emoji domains being difficult to input on computers seem unaware or forgetful of this near ubiquitous mobile trend that is happening all around them for three years now.
Losing market share to mobile, manufacturers of laptops and desktops are now under pressure to somehow include emojis within their keyboards, so don't be surprised to see them in future computer models.
Since emojis are accessible and readily available on mobile phones, emoji domains are more valuable than those with other Unicode symbols. We at Punycode.com have received numerous inquiries on domains containing non-emoji symbols, with their owners erroneously thinking they were emojis.
For example, see the following two Unicode characters, but only one of them is an emoji on your smart phone:
✔.com :: punycode xn--gci.com (emoji)
✓.com :: punycode xn--fci.com (non-emoji but Unicode character)
As a result, ✔.com (xn--gci.com) is more valuable than ✓.com (xn--fci.com).
Regardless, since emojis are inherently compelling, people are more willing to go out of their way to use them, as evidenced by the six billion text messages with emojis sent every single day, according to Swyft Media. It is also evidenced by the dizzying frequency of emoji usage on Twitter, which is best illustrated here.
Emojis are so compelling that the most valuable corporation in the entire world, Apple, is not only committed to emojis but doubling down with animated emojis, called animojis, a key feature and selling point of their upcoming iPhone X:
Apple isn't stupid obviously. Based on their customer data, they apparently know that emojis are tremendously popular among iPhone users.
Apple isn't the only major technology company that caters to emojis. Google has allowed emojis as inputs in searches as well as in the search results themselves. Microsoft in their most recent update fixed emoji issues that were problems before. The reason why these otherwise competitive companies are in alignment on emojis is because they are full voting members of the Unicode Consortium, the origin of emojis as we know them today.
So if emojis are good enough for all the major companies that bring us the web, wouldn't it make sense for us to pay attention as domainers, and to consider emoji domains in our portfolios?
In summary, the future for emojis and emoji domains is bright. Many domainers have embraced domains related to esports, cryptocurrencies, and virtual reality. To then ignore the huge opportunity presented by emoji domains, especially in .com, would seem not very discerning and astute. After all, the last time we checked, domainers are a rather discerning and astute bunch.
You see the airplane emoji ✈.com domain above? Commercially, we believe this airplane emoji is and will remain the most valuable emoji domain of all time. It represents $2.4 trillion annually in the travel and tourism industry worldwide.
And regardless of whether or not emojis will ever be made available for registration in .com, the airplane's valuation will ascend to 39,000 feet and above every possible emoji in Unicode.
Why? Take the domain name X.com which has recently been acquired by Elon Musk, a billionaire entrepreneur. Does the fact that there are literally millions of domain names available in .com affect X.com's worth?
There is only one X.com, as there is only one ✈.com. In other words, there is only one letter X and one jet ✈. There is also no extension more coveted and reputable than .com. Thus, ✈.com would retain its worth regardless.
One could even argue that the more, the merrier. With .com emoji domains made available for registration, many more companies would use emoji domains and hence elevate ✈.com's stature further. The interest in emoji domain would be more mature and accepted for general use.
Of course Punycode.com has more than the jet emoji ✈. We have 11 emoji domains in total in .com. Since there are a grand total of 33 .com emoji domains in existence, our 11 represents 33 percent of all .com emoji domains -- all in one collection, all in one place.
And if in the future 2,665 more single emoji domains join ✈ in the .com extension, Punycode.com would still be the one and only place to get ✈.com.
Therefore, have confidence in your acquisition of .com emoji domains at Punycode.com. Both valuable in marketing and in investment, our .com emoji domains are assets that are sure to soar.
UPDATE September 14, 2017: Today we acquired ✈.net. We now have the two most expensive emoji domains in their respective extensions.
Before we start, a quick definition is in order. Internationalized domain names (IDNs) are domain names that are displayed in a native language's script or alphabet. That is to say, a script or alphabet not found in the English language. Like emoji domains, IDNs are converted to punycode (a limited set of characters in ASCII) in browsers to prevent homograph or phishing attacks.
Today we talk about unique domain names. By unique, we mean unconventional whether it looks different or because of its background is different.
As fans of emoji domains, we know it is sort of strange to highlight what is different with pictographic domains that are already different from their textual counterparts. Yet we have managed to find a few rare ones. So let's go over some of what we think are not only uncommon but also compelling.
First up is the Egyptian hieroglyph ".com" domain above that shows a man on two giraffes is clearly unique visually. Can any domain say it is more unusual than this one? Despite its appearance, it's not an emoji but an IDN. It is considered a letter or a component of a word in ancient Egypt.
Other domains are less obvious, like the modern pentathlon ".to" domain below. The character is currently not an emoji but a Unicode character:
The Unicode character above was set to become an emoji in Unicode 9.0 in 2016 but due to a last-time objection by Apple and backed by Microsoft -- something they both agreed on! -- it was rejected. The objection was the emoji candidate had a man shooting a rifle. What they thought about the fencing, swimming, horseback riding, and running is anyone's guess. The pentathlon is a summer Olympic sport.
In the same Unicode meeting, Apple and Microsoft also objected to the rifle emoji:
The objection seems more reasonable here until we found out the origin of this rifle. Like the pentathlon, the rifle idea came from the Olympics. The biathlon is a winter Olympic sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The rifle shooting was to test the athlete's skill in marksmanship.
And like the pentathlon, the rifle too was rejected from emoji status but kept its Unicode character status.
We tried to reach out to those who were there at the meeting and below is the response we received:
We are a member and official sponsor of Unicode, albeit we are relatively new. We plan to be more involved in Unicode in the future.
Needless to say, we'll keep our pentathlon and rifle domains because we believe it represents well a social issue at the heart of why so many Americans feel the way they feel, whether it's for gun control or gun rights.
Going back to the Egyptian ".com" hieroglyphs there are a few more we would like to hightlight:
The first of the three above is the Egyptian god Bes, who is a defender of the household, guarding all that is good and keeping away all that is bad. Unlike other Egyptian gods, he isn't shown in profile but in full face, which indicates a readiness, even an attack mode. What's hanging down between his legs is probably what you would suspect, since he also represents entertainment and sexual pleasure. Is your domain this exotic?
The second of the three above looks like a flower vase but it is in fact a pen and ink pot. A writing device. As a collector of fountain pens, we like this hieroglyph very much. There is another hieroglyph domain with the pen on the left and the ink pot on the right, which we also own. Perfect for left-handers!
The third of the three above is a female pharaoh holding a flower. However, what is unusual about her is she is wearing a beard, which represents royalty and authority. Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh, was known to wear one. You want gender equality? Well the Egyptians seemed to have achieved it thousands of years ago.
We also like well-balanced emoji domains, especially if it's in relations to the extension's name:
Of course we enjoy what emojis are most famous for -- silly faces:
The uniqueness of an emoji domain name isn't even limited to single characters. Sometimes, a multiple-character domain would be more valuable than a single. For instance, when you want to go to a five-star hotel or restaurant, you don't want to go to a one-star emoji domain. You would need a five-star emoji domain:
Emoji domains are already inherently different when compared to millions of domain names in text. So to find the truly unique emoji domain, you would have to be creative beyond words. And going beyond words is what we at Punycode.com enjoy and specialize in.
Early in the 20th century, many doctors claimed smoking wasn't bad for your health. In the "Lucky Strike" advertisement above, 20,000 physicians said there were even benefits to smoking. The only actual benefit, it would seem, was the increase in their bank accounts. They let the money affect their judgment.
Where were the doctors at the time who sounded the alarm on the dangerous health risks of smoking? There were a few. But to tobacco corporations, those doctors were a nuisance and an obstacle to higher sales, and therefore they were ignored and actively shunned. Cigarette manufacturers and 20,000 doctors had a conflict of interest between their financials and the facts.
Interestingly, this smoking example is analogous to the .ws domain extension and many of the people in it.
Since 2015, the .ws extension has had a virtual monopoly on emoji domain registrations. The people who registered and/or invested in them early have a vested interest in its success. Nothing wrong that, really. We believe in capitalism. Those who took the risks should reap the rewards.
Well, fast forward to July 2017, and this is when their capitalist story turned into more of an anti-trust business case on what not to do. Enter the .to extension, which is indeed a different lucky strike for the general public.
First of all, because of our love for emojis, we started out as fans of the .ws extension, but the .to extension provided us an education we sorely lacked. It also revealed to us the lack of integrity of many .ws investors.
When the .to extension was promoted by Max Guerin in mid-July 2017, not one person from the entire .ws investor community acknowledged him. They ignored and shunned him. We at Punycode.com were the only one who expressed publicly we liked his idea. In response, many .ws investors became less friendly toward us, especially when we stopped buying .ws domains from them.
Like many .ws domain investors, we thought .ws was the "standard" for emoji domains. But this is wrong. Very wrong. Our mistake was emoji domains are still practically unknown to everyone. Currently, we still see individuals surprised that they can register emoji domains. Thus, there cannot be a standard, widely-accepted emoji domain extension when emoji domains aren't even recognized, much less accepted.
Although Punycode.com owns more single-character .ws emoji domains than most .ws investors -- most .ws investors own double-character domains -- we knew .to was indeed a superior extension. For the first time, there was an emoji extension that actually makes sense. Since emoji domains are used primarily for re-directs in marketing campaigns, .to's inherent "go to" meaning is by far more intuitive than the meaningless .ws. Instantly, we realized the value of .ws emoji domains had been overstated, and artificially and inaccurately promoted as the only viable emoji domain extension. .To was clearly a viable alternative, if not a more preferable one.
Regarding the name ".ws" -- besides the inside joke among old-time domainers that ".ws" stands for "we suck" -- is a more serious problem with it being simply unlikable. The first question that almost everyone asks after learning he or she can register emoji domains in .ws is can it be registered in another extension?
The .ws "we suck" joke we discovered was all too real when the first day we owned a .ws domain at Global Domains International, the operators and origin of all .ws domains, was when we started to receive over 20 spam emails a day. Even basic features that are normally free, like domain forwarding, they were charging for. Domain contact information can't be changed on your own and so a service ticket is required. The .ws operators seemed out of touch with their competition. But why should they when they have a monopoly on emoji domains?
Not anymore. By mid-August 2017, about one month after Max Guerin introduced to the .ws community his .to idea, serial entrepreneur Marc Köhlbrugge opened the floodgates with his .to emoji registration service. Yes, the registration fee is higher but major domain features, like privacy, are all included in the price. Within a week, almost every .to single character was registered. Mr. Guerin's assertions were validated. Punycode.com's was also validated, but it didn't do our .ws portfolio's value any good. With the ascension of .to, the decline of .ws was inevitable and its monopoly was suddenly over. Whatever advantage .ws had in the past was long gone.
Two charts below from Namebio.com clearly beacons the decline of .ws domains after Marc Köhlbrugge's work promoting .to domains in mid-August 2017. The first chart shows what .ws domains were selling for in the past; the last sale recorded was July 23, 2017. The second chart shows all emoji and IDN domain sales in the last 30 days. Notice in the second chart a .to emoji domain selling for $1500 and none sold with a .ws extension.
After the .to extension became popular, Punycode.com criticized the .ws investors for not taking advantage of Max Guerin's earlier suggestion to go into the .to extension. If they were truly about promoting emoji domains, what is wrong with an emoji domain in .to extension? Yet they continued to trumpet only .ws. We warned them not to put too much stock in .ws, but like what they did to Max Guerin, they all ignored and shunned Punycode.com as well. We were a nuisance and an obstacle to their financial situation.
For example, an emoji domain gallery, managed by a .ws registration purveyor, once featured a .com emoji domain we own but our domain has since been deleted from his gallery. To this day, we received no answer to our question on why our domain was deleted. When we told an old-time domainer (someone who has sold millions of dollars worth of domains over the years) what has happened, he said, "Why would you want to be in a gallery full of .ws domains? Your .com's are like Ruth's Chris steaks, and their .ws's are like hamburgers. You don't belong there!"
Like the smoking example, many .ws investors, it seemed, were in denial of the fact that .to was a serious consideration. Mr. Köhlbrugge proved them wrong. Although .ws investors claim they want to promote emoji domains, in action they tried to stifle any competition for .ws that would adversely affect them financially. From the .ws registration purveyor via GoDaddy.com to the investor who doesn't want his .ws portfolio to not lose value, they were all wanting the .to extension to go away. We at Punycode.com didn't want our .ws portfolio's value to go down either but not at the expense of sound reason, especially after analyzing the reality of the situation. We refused to let the money affect our judgment.
And also like the smoking example, they continued to tout the 20,000 .ws registrations, the benefits of support (what support?) and how .ws is the "standard" and the ".com" of emoji domains. How wrong were they? How about this: they forgot that only emoji domains in .com can be the ".com" of emoji domains -- and Punycode.com has 33% of all .com emoji domains in existence. Yesterday, we saw the writer of a "definitive" guide to emoji domains not knowing whether or not a Unicode character is an emoji. (That emoji happens to be a .com we have at Punycode.com.) A few weeks ago we educated another writer of a guide to emojis as well when he also didn't know whether or not certain Unicode characters were emojis. Therefore, since their basic facts and assumptions were lacking, their conclusions have been proven to be lacking as well.
We still have eight single-character .ws emoji domains, and they are worth only a fraction of what they were before. They pale in comparison to the .to domains. That is why we finally decided not to sell our .ws emoji domains on Punycode.com, especially to uninitiated customers. We rather take the .ws loss than have someone else take that loss. Simply put, .ws domains are not professional and business-grade. We believe any investor or webmaster would be unhappy in the long run owning a .ws domain.
Even if we can ignore the financial value, the practical value of .ws is limited in comparison to the .to extension. The .ws extension signals to people about a company that can't afford a proper domain. So the ".ws" would be a distraction, not a positive. In addition, the .ws initials by themselves don't mean anything and thus add nothing of value in marketing campaigns. Again, the ".ws" might even distract and offset some benefits from the emojis. At least with a .to extension, the link signals a purposeful re-direct, a "go to." Major companies like Amazon, Uber, and NBC News (who can afford a proper domain) have been using the .to extension in their social media marketing efforts for years. In fact, the .to extension was one of the first extensions to be used as a re-direct link, which emoji domains are perfect for.
Punycode.com started less than a month ago and has already received the highest offer amount in history for an emoji domain. We turned down the offer, because unlike .ws, we believe emoji domains in .com, .net, and .to will increase in value in the future. With our connections to many company CEOs, Punycode.com is currently working on two deals that would dwarf even our highest offer. Stay tuned.
Many people in business tend to forget why they are in business in the first place. Believe it or not, it's not about making a profit. Money is the by-product, not the mission. The mission is to provide society a benefit it otherwise would not have without our company's existence. That is Punycode.com's philosophy, whether you buy from us or not. Only learn from our mistake and don't buy a .ws domain. In time you will understand that buying an emoji domain in .com, .net, or .to extensions is more useful, appropriate, and professional for your company.
UPDATE September 12, 2017: Today we met a business owner who registered almost 200 .ws emoji domains, none of them singles. Since the person registered all of them with privacy, each domain costs $12. So her total investment was about $2400. She now decides to auction off her .ws emoji domains hoping to get something a little more than what she paid. Unfortunately, she'll soon discover that she will not be able to recoup her losses. Her losses really is a $2400 educational course in domaining. This is an example of why .ws should rarely be considered as an investment, and those who continue to sell .ws domains have a moral responsibility to educate new buyers of their options, such as the .to extension availability.