ICANN has given businesses another chance to find the perfect domain for their online premises by announcing the release of a new generation of generic top-level domains (gTLDs).
For those who are unhappy with their current domain, this was welcome news. The release of this new batch of generic top level domains has been in the planning stages since 2011. In total, ICANN received 1930 applications for new gTLDs, of which 1745 have passed the initial evaluation. The 13th November 2013 has been announced as ICANN’s ‘best case’ timeline for the start of domain name activation and open registration begins from 26th November.
Who has applied?
A host of corporations of all sizes have sparked an interest in the new gTLDs, with the most prolific of these being Donuts Inc. which has applied for 307 of the latest gTLDs. Second in line is Google, who have submitted 103 applications.
Tech companies appear to have differentiated in their strategies. Google and Amazon have applied for a number of new gTLDs (amounting to a combined value of $33million for ICANN), whereas Microsoft have shown an interest in only a handful. And Apple? Just the one. Some have even failed to see the appeal, with social media giants, Facebook and Twitter, failing to apply for any of the new gTLDs.
There are a mass of new gTLDs which are to become available. However the most commonly competed for are - .app, .home, .inc, .art, .blog, .book, .uc and .shop - and for our clients, perhaps the most appealing is .scot which is one of ICANN's geographic gTLDs. To find out more, ICANN have released a short video which provides an overview of the release of the new gTLDs.
To buy or not to buy...
General opinion about the release of new gTLDs appears to be split down the middle. Analysts have debated the benefits of the release of these new gTLDs and opinions appear to be mixed. It has been argued that the release of these will increase domain competition, while others feel that it will simply confuse the Internet space.
The potential benefits of owning a new gTLD are:
- Businesses can secure their own namespace
- The potential to extend a trusted brand
- Enhance brand trust towards partners, stakeholders and customers
- Serves as a hub for the company and allows second-level domains for products and services to be created around this
- Unite communities and geographic areas
However, the decision to apply for a new gTLD should not be taken lightly. ICANN says,
You will be responsible for a highly critical and highly visible piece of internet infrastructure."
Things that may deter businesses from taking the plunge are:
- You are responsible for all of the domain names registered to your gTLD
- The initial evaluation fee of $185,000 and ongoing registry operating costs
- If you do not pass the initial evaluation you could lose some or all of your initial investment
- There is no guarantee that you will be given the string that you applied for
- There are strict, enforced regulations and businesses must comply with registry agreement
- Community-based gTLDs are faced with further restrictions
- Added cost of employing skilled technical operators
- This is a pioneering new technology, there are no guaranteed benefits
Who wins in the battle of the gTLDs?
With the number of online businesses whose services cross over, it’s undoubted that there is bound to be a little healthy competition between similar brands. ICANN have overcome this via a ‘Community Priority Evaluation’ which aims to determine the most deserving applicant. If no agreement can be reached, then the contested gTLD is auctioned off to the highest bidder. For example, .book is currently sought after by Amazon and Google, and it is unlikely that ICANN will be able to decipher between the cases put forward by each. The method of ‘gTLD auction’ is likely to bring in a considerable amount of funding for ICANN.
How will this affect my business?
Depending on the nature of your company, there is the potential for a namespace collision. Third parties - whether intentionally, or otherwise - may apply for gTLDs with second level domains which are very similar to your trademark. This can confuse your customers, or even result in them using a competitor site. Plus, any offensive content on very similar domains can be harmful to your brand. Some rules have been put in place which state that such instances will result in the new TLD being revoked 120 days after ICANN signs with the new gTLD registry. However, ICANN's CEO Fadi Chehadé has voiced that the potential risks are being addressed and there should be no reason to delay the release of the new gTLDs. As the next few months will see ICANNs plan for the release of these new gTLDs inch towards fruition, the impact of these - be it considerable or unnoticed - remains speculative.
Did you know…
Mercurytide cater for all web services, including domain registration and management. If you want to discuss how we can help, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or drop us an email.