New gTLDs and the road ahead

Almost 2000 organizations from around the world participated in ICANN’s new gTLD program and with major companies such as Google and Amazon taking part, any scepticism about the venture, must surely have been quashed. Or has it? Where were Pepsi, Coca Cola, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, surely not a lack of funds?

While the dust is settling, some companies are breathing a sigh of relief, whilst others are preparing for battle. Many brand owners will be anxiously waiting the fall out, used to having to defend their brands; the battle has now become a war with hundreds of new possible trademark infringements.

But, for some companies, these are exciting times and the introduction of new gTLDs is seen as favourable; owning an accredited space from which to provide online services.

Google vs. Amazon

Between them, Google and Amazon have applied for 177 gTLDs, with 23 duplicated applications there is a strong possibility that an auction will be held. ICANN has stressed that an auction is the last resort for deciding ownership of a duplicated gTLD, encouraging applicants to negotiate privately.

If the new gTLDs are successful will this give the new domain owners too much influence over the Web? If Amazon wins the right to own .BOOK they will have total control over who is allowed to use this domain. Should this wholly generic domain be owned by a book seller? Will they remain impartial and allow competitors to register a domain name? If Google win .BOOK, will they allow Amazon to register? And, if the competition is not there will users pay the price? So many questions…

Teaching old dogs new tricks?

These new gTLDs are not revolutionary, with the previous introduction of .MUSEUM, .NAME, .COOP, .AERO, .JOBS, .TRAVEL, .CO and .MOBI. Regrettably, these early TLDs did not prove hugely successful; .MUSEUM, created in 2001, shows approximately 500 registered domain names, whilst the big names felt safer keeping their original domains: louvre.fr, tate.org.uk, guggenheim.org. So what’s different this time?

Users may be so overwhelmed with the new choices that they stick with what they know and trust; millions of people will have to be encouraged and nurtured, their trust will have to be won.

WHATdotWHERE

The ICANN list of applied-for new gTLDs indicates 86 geographic names, 50 of which are cities, with only .MED having multiple applicants.

Xavier Buck, EuroDNS Chairman says, “I don’t believe in the generic TLDs, look at the history of .TRAVEL, .JOBS, etc. I believe in the mind of the people, and their surfing pattern is WHATdotWHERE. WHERE.COM is for global, and ccTLDs for local, now they will have the city TLDs.” He went on to say, “If you search for hotel Berlin or hotel London, Google will favour hotel.london and hotel.berlin; Google is becoming more local and always considers the IP address, domain extension and language of a site, to provide pages that are geographically relevant.”

Xavier Buck gave an interview to DomainSherpa, ‘Candid Advice for all New gTLDs’, please read for more information on how Xavier became the ‘king of ccTLDs’.

Brand new

There are 725 applications for brand names, but as previously stated, there are some big names missing, we can only wonder why. The companies that did apply for their brand did not restrict themselves to merely their brand name; L’Oreal included .SKIN, .SALON, .BEAUTY, and .HAIR in their applications. Xavier, who was in consultation with some of the brand name applicants, is of the opinion that 90% do not yet know what they are going to do with the TLDs they now own.

Survival of the fittest

With the first of the new gTLDs scheduled to hit the Internet next year, the public’s general awareness of domain names is inevitably going to increase; along with this will be a need for further knowledge as to how domain names and search engines work. Those owners possessing numerous new TLDs will survive comfortably, but those only holding one or two are going to struggle to make enough money to sustain their registry with the fees, cost of marketing, and the inevitable competition. The larger, new registries will eventually swallow up the smaller; to avoid this it would be advisable for the small registries to form partnerships, creating a force to be reckoned with.

Items of interest

The Kerry Trading Company in Hong Kong sent six applications for new TLDs including one for .KERRYLOGISITICS. Oops, a spelling mistake; with no provisions for this type of occurrence mentioned in the ICANN guidebook, the applicant may have lost a significant amount of money. Another, application is for .DOTAFRICA, let’s hope it was intentional, but I think not.

Holy See (Vatican City) has submitted four applications for .CATHOLIC (Latin, Russian, Arabic, Chinese), they are not for individuals to register; restricted to diocese, religious communities and other specified institutions. These restrictions eliminate any possible return on the huge investment of over $740,000, terrible news for an institution with falling numbers and lack of funds!

Whilst most of the TLDs offer no surprise there are several that ‘raise an eyebrow’, such as .SUCKS, .WTF, .GOO, .FOO, .OFF, .OOO, and so on. Yes, they are amusing, but what a price to pay for fun names.

EuroDNS offers support

EuroDNS intends having all the new gTLDs in its portfolio and offers specialized consultancy services for the new registries; they will need a registrar and EuroDNS is perfectly placed to fulfil this role. Xavier said, “We have a strong team of experts in development, technical and sales; with everything already streamlined and automated we are well positioned to handle several implementations a week.”

 

Luc

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