Do we need more extensions?

Most of you have probably heard about the proposed ICANN relaxation of rules allowing applications of new domain name extensions. This has been ongoing for a number of years and there is a part of me that actually thinks… is this actually going to happen?

ICANN plans to start accepting applications for new gtlds in 2011, not earlier than Q2. Hundreds to thousands of the applications are expected out of 4 groups:
–          Brands
–          Communities
–          Geographic group – cities and regions
–          Generic terms

Once the New gtld program is launched, ICANN estimates to receive approx. 500 applications on the initial roll out.

Applications from everyone – cities, communities, companies, individuals ready to be filed include:

The initiative for the top-level domain .berlin is supported by several companies, organisations, associations and individuals. With the new namespace .berlin the regional identity for the Berlin community will be created. Similar applications are for .london, .nyc, .london, .roma, .paris etc.

The initiative for the top-level domain .gay is supported by dotGAY, non profit organization headquartered in Palm Springs, USA. .GAY will be a top level domain for Gay community around the world. Domain names like travel.gay, civilrights.gay, art.gay can then be registered.

.cym will stand for the Welsh cultural and linguistic community.

.shop will be a new gtld for e-commerce, endorsed by GMO Registry.

.music is the proposed domain extension representing the global music community, it has received over 800,000 signatures from fans for gathering support to release the .music gtld.

.radio is endorsed by BRS Media, which is the current registry of .fm domain names.

.horse dedicated to horse lovers and many others!
It’s not going to be cheap though if you are already starting to think of new extensions…

Fees for new Gltds:
Application fee 185.000 USD
Minimum yearly ICANN fee 25.000 USD
Technical structure for new gtld management – in-house (costs can reach 1 mil. USD) or outsourcing (agreement with existing registry to use their services)
Operation and administration, legal, marketing fees

So what will it mean?

At the moment I’m reserving my judgment. This move will either revolutionize the way the internet is categorize or create an absolute nightmare for  brands that need to protect their online identity and customer experience. I am already telling the clients I work with that it is prohibitively expensive to register every extension and to focus on the key geographical areas of interest. It’s already impossible to prevent breaches of a brand, add a word on the brand name, create a plural, pick a mis-spelling…

I will blog on this in the future, but with reports of the Church approaching ICANN to ask them to leave religion (.GOD) out of this, the Olympics also reportedly having similar concerns and now Governments around the world raising objections, who knows if it will finally happen.

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