00:00:06 ◼ ► And I'm David Smith. Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes, so let's get started.
00:00:10 ◼ ► So today we are coming back to more topical things, more real-time news and those types of topics,
00:00:19 ◼ ► as we are now entering into the beginnings of the really fun seasonal news time of year,
00:00:30 ◼ ► So Microsoft Build just happened, Google I/O is happening right now as we are recording,
00:00:44 ◼ ► So we have some really interesting topics, and we have a couple of those that we are going to unpack today.
00:00:49 ◼ ► And I think the first thing that I wanted to talk about is to talk about the new .app TLD domain
00:01:02 ◼ ► So for anyone not familiar, a couple of years ago, a whole explosion of new top-level domains,
00:01:24 ◼ ► and one of the more interesting ones is that Google acquired the rights to manage the .app domain,
00:01:36 ◼ ► And it was originally, I think, a little unclear as to what Google's intentions and plans were with it,
00:01:42 ◼ ► exactly what they were going to do, but as of right now, it's just a top-level domain that anyone can register a domain with.
00:01:51 ◼ ► There was an original period, if you had a trademark for an app name, you could have applied for early access to it.
00:02:04 ◼ ► All those are passed, so it's not particularly interesting to talk about those at this point.
00:02:11 ◼ ► There's that sort of standard land rush period where I'm sure the more generic or highly sought-after domains
00:02:20 ◼ ► may have sort of already been all gobbled up, but in general, it's now something that you can do,
00:02:35 ◼ ► It's kind of a funny thing though, because I registered it because it felt like I wanted to own that.
00:02:45 ◼ ► The way people download my app is not through going to Safari, typing in a URL, and hitting go.
00:02:53 ◼ ► They're either going to search for it in Google, they're going to search for it in the App Store.
00:02:57 ◼ ► I think my analytics read this out, that the percentage of my traffic that is coming from actual...
00:03:11 ◼ ► But I think there's an interesting discussion around if this makes sense, if it's important,
00:03:30 ◼ ► and the first phase, which is called sunrise, this is any top-level domain that gets launched,
00:03:35 ◼ ► they seem to go through these same phases recently, sunrise, land rush, and then I think general availability,
00:03:45 ◼ ► During land rush, anybody can, and whoever gets there first gets it, but it's at a higher price.
00:03:50 ◼ ► And then after that, it's just quote regular pricing, whatever that means, and also anybody can register.
00:04:01 ◼ ► I went through the process to register overcast.app during the sunrise phase and actually get my domain
00:04:51 ◼ ► I can file a complaint with them and say, "Look, I have this trademark. This is not me. Take it down."
00:05:05 ◼ ► Like if somebody rips off your name or icon or tries to just clone your app in most ways,
00:07:22 ◼ ► that cryptographically is signed by them that says, "Yes, I am indeed the trademark owner."
00:07:27 ◼ ► I uploaded that file to Gandhi's website when I was registering the domain during sunrise,
00:07:43 ◼ ► and I think cheaper. So I also tried to register a few names that I don't have trademarks on,
00:07:49 ◼ ► at least not yet. I tried to register Forecast, which I have a pending trademark application,
00:08:00 ◼ ► I tried registering Podcast and Podcasts.app, and all three of those that I tried to register
00:08:06 ◼ ► during the land rush phase, which is where anybody can register, but it just costs a little bit more,
00:08:10 ◼ ► I lost all three of them. All three, because basically, whichever registration gets sent in first
00:08:20 ◼ ► So the only one I have that I actually succeeded in buying is Overcast, which is the one I have the trademark for.
00:08:26 ◼ ► Yeah, and I would imagine, too, I know Apple has trademarks on Podcasts as a word as well,
00:08:32 ◼ ► so who knows if Apple themselves went through the trademark phase with those domains as well.
00:08:46 ◼ ► Even though Podcast is now a fairly generic term at this point, they still hold a trademark to it.
00:08:52 ◼ ► The value of domains, like you mentioned a little bit ago, you mentioned how it kind of feels like just like a tax.
00:08:58 ◼ ► I already have a perfectly fine domain. I have Overcast FM, and Forecast just has a page on Overcast.
00:09:04 ◼ ► It doesn't really have its own domain, and I don't need podcast.app, really. It would have been cool if I could get it,
00:09:16 ◼ ► As you mentioned, most of your customers don't--like, most people don't just type in arbitrary domain names
00:09:21 ◼ ► seeing if they'll work. It's like, "I need a podcast app. I'm going to type in podcast.app into my browser
00:09:26 ◼ ► and just get whatever's there." Like, nobody does that. Everybody just searches either the App Store or web search engines
00:09:32 ◼ ► whenever they want something. So the reality is that the value of domains is not that high,
00:09:39 ◼ ► especially now that now there are so many top-level domains that you can register for general use
00:09:45 ◼ ► that any given one--like, any name you want, you can probably get, you know, whatever comes before the dot,
00:09:53 ◼ ► you can probably get whatever you want at one of these domains, you know, within reason.
00:09:57 ◼ ► And it doesn't really matter if, you know, does it matter if I'm overcast.fm or overcast.app or overcast.site
00:10:04 ◼ ► or overcast.plumbing? No, not really. Like, it's--you're lucky these days if the browsers even show a URL at all
00:10:11 ◼ ► when you're browsing the web, let alone, like, paying too much attention to your domain name.
00:10:20 ◼ ► I was, though, I was excited about dot.app because a lot of the new ones are, like, kind of too specific
00:10:27 ◼ ► or too wordy. Like, one of the things about dot.com and dot.net and dot.org and to some degree even dot.fm
00:10:35 ◼ ► is, like, these aren't words themselves. So, like, your brand name was whatever was before it
00:10:41 ◼ ► and whatever was after it didn't matter. So, like, my brand name is not overcast.diamonds.
00:10:46 ◼ ► My brand name is overcast. And if you have a short domain name that is just kind of, you know, letters
00:10:53 ◼ ► or very generic, like, app or dot.com or dot.us, things like that, it's--the focus comes on the name
00:11:01 ◼ ► that comes before it. And a lot of these new--like, diamonds and plumbing and, you know, dot.rentals
00:11:07 ◼ ► and everything, a lot of those new names, they are themselves words that have to become part of your brand.
00:11:13 ◼ ► It kind of ends up sounding like--just like a big generic phrase. And that's--I've never really taken to that.
00:11:20 ◼ ► Like, I don't think most of the new TLDs are useful in that way because they're too wordy and specific.
00:11:27 ◼ ► But dot.app is nice. It's one of the few that has launched, you know, in recent years where that actually is,
00:11:35 ◼ ► you know, short and generic enough that you can build a meaningful brand on it without it just kind of reading
00:11:42 ◼ ► and sounding weird. So I'm actually very happy about that. I--you know, it still doesn't matter as much
00:11:48 ◼ ► whether you have a certain domain. It matters more that you have a domain and that you're not, like, you know,
00:11:54 ◼ ► hosted on, like, you know, something dot, you know, wordpress.org or dot.tumblr.com for your, like, app site
00:11:59 ◼ ► or whatever. But otherwise, you know, any domain is pretty much fine. So it doesn't really matter if you get this one
00:12:06 ◼ ► or not. Some are easier and more clear than others. But most people who are going to hear about your app
00:12:11 ◼ ► are going to do it via search or tapping an ad or something like that anyway. It's not going to be through just typing
00:12:18 ◼ ► in arbitrary domain names because--and even, you know, when you type in the URL bar, you're usually just automatically
00:12:23 ◼ ► doing a search anyway. So again, it's--the value of having a particular domain is not very high.
00:12:30 ◼ ► Yeah, I mean, I think really all the main benefit I see for this is, like, it's a slightly more memorable--
00:12:35 ◼ ► it's like a short code in some ways for your--like, it seems more memorable that if, you know, if you meet somebody
00:12:43 ◼ ► and they say, "Oh, what'd you do? Oh, I make a podcast player. Oh, what's it called? Overcast." It's like, you can just, like,
00:12:49 ◼ ► be able to say overcast.app, like, has a--it seems like that's a reasonably memorable experience for them, potentially.
00:12:57 ◼ ► Like, it ties together what it is with its name. Now, fair enough, I'm not sure of how you--beyond, like,
00:13:04 ◼ ► all they're really--are potentially probably doing is using it as a way to get redirected into the App Store,
00:13:10 ◼ ► which is ultimately what you want, and they--and it probably maybe comes into more into play if you have really poor
00:13:16 ◼ ► search ranking in the App Store, that if you search, you do--you know, and unfortunately, many times, even if you search
00:13:22 ◼ ► for the exact name of an app in the App Store, it still won't be the number one hit, especially after a search ad.
00:13:28 ◼ ► Like, you--like, in those situations, I could see it coming more into play that if you are doing more advertising
00:13:36 ◼ ► outside of the App Store or finding ways to drive people to your App Store page, which I'll actually tie into our next topic,
00:13:43 ◼ ► a little sneak peek there, but if you are doing more of those types of activities where you're trying to drive people
00:13:50 ◼ ► externally into the App Store, it, like, it may be slightly useful, but yeah. Like, I mean, mostly with this kind of stuff,
00:13:55 ◼ ► I feel like it's like, yeah, it's--I feel like it's a responsible thing to do, and mostly I just don't want someone else to have it.
00:14:01 ◼ ► I mean, it's sort of like, when a new platform comes around and you, like, snag your own name, like, even if you don't expect
00:14:07 ◼ ► to use the service, it's like, there's just a certain amount of vanity around that, but, you know, anyway, it's just like,
00:14:13 ◼ ► if you are an app developer, it's probably a reasonable place to start, that if you're making a new app,
00:14:24 ◼ ► - It's also nice to just have the, kind of like, you know, like the land availability is reset on this.
00:14:30 ◼ ► Like, you're not gonna get a .com for pretty much anything anymore. It's really hard and really expensive usually,
00:14:35 ◼ ► 'cause you gotta usually buy it from a squatter, and at least with .app, there is a lot of that same problem.
00:14:40 ◼ ► There's lots of people that are squatting on it already and that will continue to squat on it, but it's gonna be less than .com.
00:14:48 ◼ ► - Yeah, and especially in this initial period, so like, if you have an idea or you're working on an app, like, this is the opportune time
00:14:54 ◼ ► to go and sort of snap it up. I mean, it wasn't very, I don't think they're particularly expensive.
00:15:00 ◼ ► Like, some domains have really high, even just regular costs, but I think these were, I don't know, it was like, 20-ish, 25, something like that, dollars?
00:15:09 ◼ ► - Yeah, that's within the realm of, like, reasonable average cost. Like, you know, .fms are like 70 bucks a year.
00:15:15 ◼ ► - Yeah, and I don't believe it was that much. I'm not entirely sure, 'cause I think I ended up, I paid slightly more
00:15:22 ◼ ► because I registered inside of one of the, like, the escalating early tiers. For mine, I have no idea which price, but I think I ended up paying $124.
00:15:31 ◼ ► So, I have no idea, like, exactly what phase that was, but I think it got the impression the renewal price would be more like in the 20s and somewhere around there.
00:15:40 ◼ ► - Yeah, and so the two other things to mention about this before we move on, I do think it's interesting that they are requiring, at the registrar level,
00:15:48 ◼ ► they're requiring all .app sites to be served over SSL. And that, and I'm not sure, I assume there's some kind of DNS trick they're doing
00:15:56 ◼ ► where they coordinate with the browsers and things to say, like, basically to enforce strict transport security at the top-level domain level
00:16:03 ◼ ► to say, like, this domain shall always be served HTTPS only. And so I haven't read up on, like, exactly how they're doing that,
00:16:10 ◼ ► but it's an interesting concept. Ultimately, you know, most sites are going HTTPS anyway, but that does certainly add, like, a barrier to entry here
00:16:20 ◼ ► that is not present on regular domain names that I'm not sure is entirely necessary. And, you know, by raising the barrier to entry, you also just, you know,
00:16:28 ◼ ► you make it harder for people to make new sites, and I don't think that's healthy. The other thing is that this is a top-level domain that is owned by Google
00:16:38 ◼ ► and run by Google, and that just makes me a little uneasy. Now, in reality, this is not the first big company that has other business interests
00:16:49 ◼ ► besides domain registration that is a top-level domain registrar. Like, for instance, I believe .blog is run by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.
00:16:56 ◼ ► Yes. And so, like, there are other instances where recently, especially in recent years, where, like, tech companies whose business is not domains
00:17:05 ◼ ► end up becoming the registrar. Like, they apply. There's this application process with, I think, with ICANN or something. Anyway, they apply, and they get granted,
00:17:14 ◼ ► like, exclusive registration rights for this TLD. I find that whole thing a little bit weird, and it certainly creates the potential for weird conflicts of interest
00:17:23 ◼ ► or weird biases. Like, for instance, Google might now prioritize .app rankings when people search for an app name. They might uprank things that are hosted on .app domains,
00:17:37 ◼ ► which both disincentivizes people from using other things and gives Google a big monetary incentive to keep selling those .app domains to all of us,
00:17:47 ◼ ► and it tells us, like, maybe we should buy a .app domain, even if we weren't planning on it, because Google's going to penalize us if we don't.
00:17:53 ◼ ► So that's a potential here that I'm not looking forward to. The only saving grace for me that prevents me from totally going off the mental deep end about how bad it is for companies like this to own the TLDs
00:18:05 ◼ ► is that the other companies that have been top-level registrars in the past, people like Verisign, are also just, like, shady, horrible companies a lot of the time.
00:18:15 ◼ ► Their track record is not good, and so as bad as it is to have companies with potential conflicts of interest in here or anti-competitive behavior,
00:18:28 ◼ ► the reality is the previous companies that administered domains like this were not much better, and at least Google is a little bit more publicly accountable than a lot of those other companies were.
00:18:40 ◼ ► So I was worried, but once I thought a little bit more about it, I figured, well, it doesn't necessarily need to be as bad as I thought it was.
00:18:47 ◼ ► And at least I would say it is encouraging to me that they at least so far have made no overtures towards making the Google Play Store be, like, A, connected to the .app domain,
00:18:59 ◼ ► because originally I was kind of worried if they were going to do a thing where .app domains were available for Google Play apps, for example.
00:19:10 ◼ ► I don't know the degree to which they could have done that, or if there would have been weird ICANN rules or policy things around that,
00:19:19 ◼ ► but it was also like, did they get .app because they control an app store and are going to kind of merge those two together, but at least so far anyway, that doesn't seem to be the case, which is encouraging.
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00:21:06 ◼ ► So another topic that came up this week that seemed like a really interesting one for our audience was
00:21:12 ◼ ► Microsoft announced that their app store, the Microsoft Store, which I guess is where you get Windows 10 apps,
00:21:18 ◼ ► is changing their fee structure around. So I think previously they had been following the same fee structure that
00:21:24 ◼ ► everyone copied from Apple, where it was a 70/30 split. So the store itself takes a 30% cut off a developer,
00:21:34 ◼ ► in-app purchase and direct purchase revenue from applications. Microsoft is moving away from that towards a,
00:21:42 ◼ ► and this I believe only applies to non-game applications, which is also an interesting caveat, but they're moving to a model where
00:21:50 ◼ ► the split will be 95% to the developer, 5% to Microsoft, for downloads that are made using a deep link into the store.
00:22:00 ◼ ► I don't know the store well enough to know, but I imagine that means if someone just has a link straight to your app
00:22:06 ◼ ► and they download your app, then they're essentially saying that in that case, we didn't do any work for you,
00:22:11 ◼ ► all we're going to be is a payment processor for you, so we're going to charge you payment processor type fees.
00:22:17 ◼ ► And then it's 85% for other purchases. So if presumably this is if they are finding it through the store,
00:22:24 ◼ ► then in that case Microsoft is saying, "Well, we're going to take an extra 10% in those cases because we were acting as a marketing venue for you,
00:22:31 ◼ ► so we're charging you kind of marketing services." Whether this is actually having an effect more broadly in the industry,
00:22:39 ◼ ► if Google or Apple would ever copy this or move towards it, I have no idea. This in many ways makes me think of like
00:22:46 ◼ ► when T-Mobile or Sprint makes some kind of change in the US carrier market, and then it's like,
00:22:51 ◼ ► "Is this actually going to affect Verizon and AT&T?" It's like, "Probably not, but maybe in the long run, I don't know."
00:22:57 ◼ ► There's an interesting kind of tie there because a Microsoft store, certainly on the mobile side, isn't really a thing.
00:23:05 ◼ ► And as far as I know, it's not in general quite as large and vibrant of a market as Google Play or the iOS app store are.
00:23:15 ◼ ► But nevertheless, it's interesting when a big, well-known player comes in and tries to do something like this.
00:23:21 ◼ ► And I think the model they're taking is really interesting, that they're applying this to applications and not games,
00:23:29 ◼ ► and then kind of having this tiered approach. And overall, if Apple announced this, I would be delighted.
00:23:38 ◼ ► Anything like this where it's trying to encourage, presumably, marginal businesses to be able to succeed,
00:23:48 ◼ ► where if you have a massive business, the difference between 70% and 85%, maybe large in terms of the actual nominal amount
00:23:59 ◼ ► that would be reduced and you would get back, but it probably has the biggest, bigger impact on a smaller business
00:24:06 ◼ ► where you would imagine the smaller indie type app where for them getting an extra $10,000 a year,
00:24:16 ◼ ► if their app is making in the $80,000 to $90,000 gross range, that extra $10,000 could be the difference between them
00:24:25 ◼ ► sustaining the app and being able to make a viable business of it or not, and falling away or having to do other things.
00:24:32 ◼ ► And so anything like this that is trying to encourage that type of behavior I think is really cool.
00:24:38 ◼ ► I'm not sure, though, if their particular approach is the way that I would do it. I think it would be great, personally,
00:24:43 ◼ ► if it was more tiered based on revenue. That always seemed like an approach that would make a lot of sense,
00:24:48 ◼ ► especially, I think, certainly, again, splitting out games and non-games. But if non-game applications,
00:24:56 ◼ ► like you could imagine a thing where it's the first $50,000 or $100,000 of revenue you make a year,
00:25:02 ◼ ► Apple takes a smaller cut and then it escalates from there so that you can encourage and nurture the small players
00:25:17 ◼ ► I would love to see Apple do something with this. I don't know if they ever will, but nevertheless,
00:25:22 ◼ ► it's interesting to see someone else putting some pressure because at the very least, my guess is,
00:25:27 ◼ ► somewhere inside of Apple now, they're having a conversation in reaction to this. And that conversation,
00:25:36 ◼ ► Yeah, I mean, I think this is mostly wishful thinking because Apple is in a position of power here.
00:25:42 ◼ ► They don't really have any reason to lower their fees. But this does, I mean, first of all,
00:25:52 ◼ ► how do you define? Is something that's kind of in the middle, like how do you define that?
00:25:56 ◼ ► Do you define it as an app or a game? Is there questions of interpretation of rules and definitions there?
00:26:02 ◼ ► So that's a little bit odd. And it seems like kind of a cheap move because we all know that games print
00:26:07 ◼ ► most of the money in the app stores for most of these devices. So it kind of like lessens how much this actually
00:26:14 ◼ ► costs Microsoft. But I do like the idea, you know, it seems more fair that as the app stores have
00:26:22 ◼ ► gotten bigger and bigger and bigger since they launched like, you know, ten years ago, it, you know,
00:26:27 ◼ ► the value of the editorial and marketing side of them has diminished because there's just so many apps now
00:26:33 ◼ ► that you're pretty much on your own for most of your marketing for almost any app. So it does make more
00:26:39 ◼ ► sense. It is a more fair split that they charge rates more in line with payment processors,
00:26:45 ◼ ► which is basically ten percent or less, I would say. So and, you know, when you direct link in, they say ninety-five percent
00:27:00 ◼ ► everybody wants us to do anyway. And that is more effective because marketing in the store is so hard.
00:27:05 ◼ ► And then otherwise their cut is eighty-five percent for non-games, which is reasonable.
00:27:12 ◼ ► We already see Apple doing that with subscriptions in subsequent years. And I actually, you know,
00:27:17 ◼ ► that's I make a lot of my income that way. And I don't know exactly the ratio, but like a good portion
00:27:23 ◼ ► of my income is now being hit at the eighty-five percent rate instead of the seventy percent rate, which is really nice.
00:27:28 ◼ ► But ultimately this is just kind of a theoretical, you know, wishful thinking kind of exercise
00:27:40 ◼ ► Apple is now trying to make a lot more of their money from services because their other categories are getting
00:27:45 ◼ ► kind of saturated and growth is slowing down. So I think the chance, and this is where, you know, this is part of
00:27:50 ◼ ► services revenue for them. So I can't imagine Apple ever saying, you know what, seventy percent
00:27:56 ◼ ► through the goodness of our hearts, we think that's now, you know, too little. We're now going to give you eighty-five
00:28:05 ◼ ► Sure. I mean, I don't know. The only thing that I hold out my little bit of hope for is
00:28:16 ◼ ► even though it is tremendously growing their services revenue, so much of their services revenue is coming
00:28:57 ◼ ► vibe that they might like to encourage. And what's interesting is because the majority of the money
00:29:17 ◼ ► small developers to be sustainable. So I don't know, yeah, it's definitely wishful thinking, hopeful, like
00:29:22 ◼ ► I don't know if it's actually a thing that would ever come from it. I would certainly like it if they did, but I think it's nevertheless
00:29:37 ◼ ► cut isn't something that is forever set in stone. We can hope. I'm not going to hold my breath, though.