ICANN on June 13 will kick off a land rush of sorts when it posts the list of proposed 2,000-plus new top-level domains and the 1,000 or so organizations that want them.
In whats become known as Reveal Day, ICANN, the global organization that holds sway over Internet domain names and addresses, will reach the next milestone in the process that kicked off in 2008 when the group first said it would open up the number of gTLDs (generic top-level domains) beyond the 22 that currently are used, from .com and .net to .org, .gov and .edu. ICANN began accepting applications in January.
Reveal Day will be a significant step for sure, giving the industry a clear idea of what ICANN will be dealing with. But its been a contentious process so far. Federal agencies, for example, are concerned that a huge influx of new TLDs will be a boon for spammers and hinder online investigations, and others have complained about the possibilities of cyber-squatters and counterfeiters abusing the process. It doesnt promise to get any easier after the applications and applicants are published.
After ICANN posts which organizations have applied for which new gTLDs, the group will open a 60-day comment period, giving applicants the chance to make their cases for their own efforts and, possibly, against others. There also will be a seven-month period from the time of Reveal Day to file formal objections with ICANN.
Evaluation panels will begin reviewing applications in July, the results of those initial evaluations will be completed in December or January, and some gTLDs will be ready for use in early 2013, while others will have to wait longer to find out if theyre approved, according to the ICANN Website.
Already, there are reports about some of the organizations that have filed applications for gTLDs, and what it is theyre looking for. In a May 31 blog post, Vint Cerf, chief Internet evangelist for Google, said the gTLDs they applied for included .google, those related to core businesses, such as .docs, its businesses, like .youtube, and those with creative possibilities, like .lol. The domain name expansion is badly needed, Cerf said.
In 2016, its estimated that almost half of the worlds population will be online, yet nearly 50 percent of the Websites we visit are found in the .com top-level domain (TLD), which was among the first TLDs created in 1984, he wrote. Despite the great opportunities the Web has enabled for people around the world, there is still a lingering question about the diversity of the domain space (given that the number of generic TLDs has only increased by 14 in the last 28 years).
Others that reportedly have spent millions of dollarsa single application costs $185,000include Domain registrar Radix, which applied for 31 gTLDs at a cost of $30 million, and a venture-backed startup called Donuts, which raised $100 million in funding and spent $56.8 million of that on 307 names.
Jeff Ernst, an analyst with Forrester Research, has a number of predictions about what ICANN will reveal June 13, including that .category applications will outnumber .brand ones. In a blog post June 11, Ernst said he expected the applications would be fairly split between .category, .brand and .geographies. However, after speaking with some of those groups most likely to apply, I now expect that there will be a lot more .category applications coming from open registry operators looking to profit from selling second-level domains. Many of these won't succeed, but I'd put my money on the registries being run by the people who have run some of our existing TLD businesses, he said.
Ernst said he also expects intense competition for the most popular categories.
There's an app for that, and I already know of four applicants for .app, he wrote. There are at least two for .bank and .insurance and this doesn't include the numerous banks and insurance companies that told me they were making a play for one of those strings. This is where the action will be. Expect the PR wars to pick up as the applicants posture to show the public and community support for their application and intended use of the registry. Some strings I expect to get the most applications include .art, .music, .beauty, .shop, .bank, .web, and .food.
In addition, Ernst said to expect that many of the .brand applications will be made for defensive purposes, with the applicants unsure what they want to do with a particular gTLD, but positive about one thing: They dont want anyone else to have it.