Clasificados Online Case Study

Puerto Rico is by far one of the most competitive markets in the world. I'm not only talking about the normal competition for clients that occurs on a level playing field. What I'm talking about is the common use of tactics and strategies that create an unfair advantage.

An example of this emerged from one of the comments shared at the Digital Publicity in an Election Year event. The comment was that people are confused about the ClasificadosOnline.com brand. As an early adopter of free classified advertising, ClasificadosOnline.com essentially wiped out the classified advertising industry in Puerto Rico. Just as Craigslist and other sites wiped destroyed the classified advertising industry in the United States.

The comment shared was that people could not remember the difference between ClasificadosOnline.com and Clasificados.pr. The later of these sites is owned by El Nuevo Dia or Grupo Rangel Ferre. What irritates me about this situation is that without the help of the .pr domain, El Nuevo Dia would have have no chance to compete based on domain names.

.pr Top Level Domain (TLD)

By using their monopoly position, El Nuevo Dia was able to obtain a .pr domain name. Previously, these domains were not being given to anyone. For instance, we tried to obtain dondees.pr way back in 2006 and were denied. At that time, the TLD was being managed from within the University of Puerto Rico. Recently I heard that they lost the rights to manage the .pr TLD.

A quick search led me to www.nic.pr. Nic.pr is:

a not-for-profit corporation, "Gauss Research Laboratory Inc" (GRL-INC), a corporation organized under the laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, registered with the Puerto Rico Department of State, is the managing organization of the Puerto Rico's Top Level Domain and is the entity responsible for providing a stable and secure management of the .pr domain. It is our responsibility to provide registry services in response to the needs of our customers and stakeholders and to ensure that our systems conform to relevant standards, enabling global interoperability.
So, to some degree the situation for anyone obtaining a .pr domain has significantly improved, but only slightly. When I found their pricing table, I was almost dumbstruck. To buy a .pr TLD, it will cost you $1,000 a year!

Analysis

Beyond the obvious implications of holding back the entire Internet industry in Puerto Rico by demanding such outrageous fees for domain registration, I believe that El Nuevo Dia deliberating found a way to create confusion about the online classified advertising by obtaining a .pr TLD, when really no one could. By the way in case you're wondering the clasificados.or domain was registered March 11, 2009.

Of course, as they say, business is a cut throat game, and only the strong should apply. A free market allows competition to be as devious and underhanded as possible, without breaking the law. However, when you're trying to grow a "knowledge-economy" it really is nearly impossible when the market is so anti-small business.

Flickr Creative Commons Contributor: lamoney