Tucows Email Service gets even more Reseller friendly
One of our primary goals with the Tucows Email Service is to be competitive with the best email services, and to be the best wholesale offering available for service providers.
Just like we do with all of our services, it comes to you as a “white label” service, with no Tucows branding anywhere. This past month we’ve been working on making the webmail interface much more extensible so you can brand it and make it even more like your own.
Here are some highlights of what we’re prepping for release:
- Single sign-on – do your users log into a portal? Do you want them to automatically access the email service without logging in twice? You can do that now with the single sign on feature inside the Tucows Email Service. By passing a token, you can authenticate as that user, without having to know their password. That means seamless logins from your portal and an improved user experience for your customers.
- We’re making the branding tool more flexible – if you put in a logo bigger than our “webmail” logo, it will automatically expand to the size of your logo. The front login page will pick up the logo from webmail, along with your background colour. You can also add your own support links, and customize the window title bar.
- Support for ads – some of our resellers like to have ads in their webmail, or they want to totally overhaul the header and footer of the webmail. In order to meet everyone’s needs, we’re making it very flexible. The header and footer will support images, and iframes hosted on another server (including target urls). We’re also adding the ability to have an ad in the bottom left-hand corner of webmail.
The email team is excited to get this release out. The UI changes to webmail and single sign-on is already in our Test Environment, and the branding enhancements will be promoted to both Test and to Live on March 4th. Existing brands won’t be affected by the update.
Stay tuned – there’s more to come including more branding, more flexibility for service providers and more features for end users!
If you haven’t checked out our webmail yet, try it out! We can provision you a demo account — all you need to do is fill out a quick form here and we’ll set you up.
Tucows Reveals Key Domain Name Portfolio Assets
This morning Tucows released some information about our domain portfolio. The highlights are:
- 150,000 domains in the portfolio as of Feburary 14th, 2008
- Over 1,000 “Gems,” or domain names Tucows considers to have the highest potential value in the portfolio
- 39,000 Surnames that form the basis of our Personal Names Service
- 22,000 Brandable Names and 88,000 Direct Navigation Names
You’ll find much more detail in the news release, including a select listing of some of those “Gem” domain names.
Introducing Tucows Personal Names Service
As a company that powers the services of many large web hosting and ISPs, we are acutely aware of how competitive these areas can be. In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from our customers is, "how do I make my company stand out?" Historically, the answer has largely been price, service and marketing. While these factors will always be important, I'm extremely excited to introduce a new service that will give Tucows resellers another competitive edge.
It's our Personal Names Service and it’s all about giving people the chance to own their own name.
In 2006, we purchased a Colorado-based company named NetIdentity, which has an extremely successful service offering email and web addresses based on some of the most popular surnames in the world. These names include Smith, Johnson, Brown, Chavez and nearly 40,000 other names. All told, about 66 percent of the population of the United States will find a match for their name in the portfolio.
Today, I'm extremely excited to introduce a wholesale version based on this model, which we're calling our Personal Names Service. This service lets our resellers offer email and web addresses based on our extensive portfolio of surnames. Each name purchased includes:
- An email account, powered by the Tucows Email Service, which includes our easy-to-use AJAX webmail, forwarding and anti-spam/anti-virus.
- A-Record and CNAME control, allowing users to host these domains wherever they like.
- Management for both email and DNS within OpenSRS, our domain name management platform.
Our Resellers are free to offer this service as an extension of their existing offerings, or even introduce a completely new "identity"-based service. I'd strongly encourage our resellers to look seriously at offering this service for a number of reasons:
- It gels well with the existing offerings.
- It's available to Tucows Resellers only, giving them an advantage over many of their competitors.
- With close to 40,000 popular surnames in our database, the majority of their customer’s names will be available.
- It taps into the very real desire for high-quality domain names as consumers seek to secure a personal digital identity.
- It's extremely affordable.
This is a great opportunity to get on board with a trend that will gain huge popularity in 2008. If you're a Tucows reseller, be sure to check out the service. And if you're not a Tucows reseller, sign up today!
Live from ICANN
The Internet co-operated this morning and I was able to get a Skype call going between Toronto and New Delhi, India where Adam Eisner, our Product Manager, Domains, has been participating in the 31st ICANN General Meeting. Adam and I had a brief chat about what’s been going on at the meeting this week including a bit about the experience of being in New Delhi.
Adam has promised a more extensive report on what happened at ICANN once he gets back. Expect that sometime next week.
To listen, either use the embedded player, or you can download an MP3 version.[audio:http://tucowsinc.com/audio/icann_report_96.mp3]
Click the play button to listen.
Adam Eisner Reports from ICANN
Tuesday was "Constituency Day", when ICANN's supporting organizations (like the Registrar Constituency and the Registry Constituency) each meet individually to discuss important policy developments and determine Constituency positions on key issues. As a member of the Registrar Constituency, Tucows was represented by myself and Elliot Noss, our President and CEO. We spent the day discussing a wide range of issues with our fellow Registrars, including topics like domain name tasting and domain transfers. The Constituency also met with key members of ICANN to discuss recent developments in areas like budgets and compliance.
Today was what I like to call "meeting day" — now that I'm registered, settled in, and with the all-day Registrar Constituency meeting overwith, it was time to meet with some of our suppliers. These days can get quite busy, as we offer Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) from many different suppliers. This can lead to a lot of meetings! In most of these meetings we discuss the newest developments at Tucows, learn about new products and services at each Registry, and try to get a good feel for where each product, as well as the market in general, is headed. While a litany of meetings may sound boring, they're actually a great opportunity to gather data which will have an important impact on product and marketing strategies.
There are more meetings in store tomorrow, as well as some interesting ICANN sessions. I'm particularly interested in attending a session on the changing gTLD environment, which will cover important topics like the evolving Registrar-Registry relationship structure, Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), and new gTLDs set to enter the market in the next couple of years.
As a reminder, even if you aren’t in New Delhi for ICANN, you can still take part in the Meeting thanks to online streaming of many of the sessions. Check the full schedule for links to sessions and webcasts.
On the Ground in New Delhi
Editors note: Adam Eisner, Product Manager, Domains made it safe and sound to India and he’s already checked in with some early thoughts as ICANN’s 31st Meeting gets underway.
I'm in New Delhi this week, attending the 31st Public Meeting of ICANN. As James mentioned in his previous post, we are an active participant in ICANN meetings and events, as the policies set forth by ICANN have a big impact on both Tucows and on you and your customers.
As Product Manager for our domain name business, ICANN events are an extraordinary opportunity to meet with important vendors, registries, policy decision makers and counterparts from other registrars all in one place. Over the next several days, I will meet many of our registries and suppliers, learn about new domain name opportunities, gather important market data, and attend ICANN-led sessions on policy development. I will also participate in a meeting of the ICANN Registrars Constituency, of which Tucows is a member. The Constituency will discuss a wide range of issues important to policy, including the Add Grace Period (AGP), which has been a hot topic of late in light of recent developments around domain tasting.
In short, much of the data gathered from meetings and sessions at an ICANN conference are applied in ways that have a direct impact. It also allows us to relay thoughts and opinions back to registries and ICANN, which play an important part in the decisions they make. Stay tuned for updates as the conference takes shape.
Tucows Heads to India for ICANN
The 31st International Public Meeting of ICANN gets underway in two days. Both Elliot Noss, our President and CEO, and Adam Eisner our Product Manager for Domains are making the long trip to New Dehli this weekend for the meeting.
Tucows continues to actively participate in ICANN as we have since 1998 when ICANN was formed. That participation gives our Resellers a voice in policy discussions and represents just one way in which Tucows works to help people unlock the power of the Internet.
In a release, ICANN said that it is fitting that the meeting is held in India as both India, and the Asian continent are at what Peter Dengate Thrush, ICANN Board Chairman, describes as, “the heart of the Internet’s future.” Dengate Thrush points to the huge population of India and notes that Internet penetration the the country is only about five percent, but growing fast. That potential growth is illustrated by the fact that a single percentage point increase represents 11 million people.
We’ll provide as much coverage as we can of the ICANN Meeting right here on the Tucows Blog. If the stars and planets align just right, we hope to do some audio reports from India as well.
Full details, including links to live video and audio webcasts, session schedules, and more can be found at the ICANN website.
Tucows Reports Financial Results for the Fourth Quarter and Year Ended Fiscal 2007
All the details, including a news release and financial statements can be found in our Investors area. We'll be hosting a live conference call beginning at 5:00 P.M. ET today (Thursday, Feb. 7th, 2008). As usual, we'll record the call and post an archived MP3 within a few hours.
Update: the MP3 recording has been posted.
Beware of Fake Domain Name Renewal Notices
Domain name renewal schemes are nothing new – we’ve been dealing with them for years – but we figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring them to your attention once again. A quick Google search brings up thousands of examples.
The usual tactic, known as domain slamming, is fairly basic – unethical companies mine WHOIS records for Registrant information and domain expiry dates. Then, months in advance, they contact the Registrant either by mail or email with a very official looking and sounding document or message that tells them to protect their valuable name by renewing early. A Google Images search brings up a couple of scanned examples.
Of course, when the Registrant sends the cheque or pays by credit card, thinking they are doing the right thing, what actually happens is that a Registrar transfer is initiated. The Registrant will then blindly go through the steps to complete the transfer, again thinking they are doing the right thing to protect their valuable domain name.
Combatting this is really fairly simple. I spoke with Paul Karkas, our Compliance Manager, who has been dealing with this kind of thing for years and has a few recommendations for resellers:
- WHOIS Privacy. This is the absolute best protection. It stops the practice dead in its tracks as there is no way for to contact the Registrant directly. Encourage your customers to take advantage of WHOIS Privacy and the protection it offers. Tucows includes WHOIS Privacy for free as part of our domains package.
- Domain locking. A locked domain can’t be transferred, again, preventing the domain slam. The transfer attempt may generate a support call by the Registrant to remove the lock, in which case you have the perfect opportunity to make sure the transfer is legitimate.
- Communication. Let your customers know about this practice and ensure that your customers know who you are and who their Registrar is. Clearly spell out your communication policies surrounding renewals (i.e. “We never send mail invoices reminding you to renew.”) before the scammers have a chance to spread their mis-information.
The Registrant is only one of the victims in domain slamming. When your customers get taken by fake notices like these, you lose their domain business. But if you take the time to educate your customers, you reap the benefits of a better relationship in which the customer knows that you are on their side, looking out for their interests.