Make Your Own TLD? (I want .bacon)

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The Way We Were

Years ago the general public was aware of three primary generic top level domain extensions (gTLD): .com, .net and .org. There was a huge “land” rush as the dot-com bubble grew and organizations were willing to spend absurd amounts of money to get the .com extension for their business, even building the massive cash outlays into their business plans. Then search engine marketers (snake-oil salesmen) and web development gurus (hacks) started to push organizations to get the .org and .net versions of a domain for assorted reasons.

As ICANN moved to provide more gTLDs, many of which didn’t make sense to the average user and gained little traction, we saw extensions like .aero and .museum appear. Registrars hopped on the bandwagon and promoted every new TLD as a requirement to branding your site.

Then countries got into the business by selling access to their ccTLDs, such as Tuvaloo with .tv marketed to to the television industry, and with enough advertising behind it, users started to accept them. The explosion of Twitter and the need for shortened web page addresses further promoted otherwise ignored TLDs, and services like bit.ly helped put the Libyan TLD on the map. Some of us are still curious to see how .xxx pans out.

How It Has Changed Again

As of today, ICANN has approved a process to allow organizations to apply for a TLD of their own (read the PDF press release [and you thought UDRP was complex]). If you are Google, for example, you might want .google. Apple might want .apple. It is conceivable that you could see addresses for search.google, maps.google, ipad.apple, iphone.apple, and other unlikely but possible combinations. Apparently the 22 gTLDs already in play don’t offer enough variance for the web.

The process itself may be relatively straightforward. ICANN will make applications available (get the May 2011 draft of the Applicant Guidebook) from January 12, 2012 through April 12, 2012, giving companies time to develop a marketing plan and come up with justification to pay the $185,000 application fee and, if approved, the annual $25,000 fee.

With those numbers you can see the potential for a small set of players who want to give it a go. From ICANN:

New gTLDs will change the way people find information on the Internet and how businesses plan and structure their online presence. Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language, offering organizations around the world the opportunity to market their brand, products, community or cause in new and innovative ways.

If my favorite “cause” ponies up that kind of money for a TLD, I can assure you I’ll re-evaluate whether that cause really needs my money.

Given how inexpensive it is to obtain a domain name using one of the current TLDs, I am not sure how ICANN expects companies to justify the expense. The limited window implies that this is just an experiment, but is probably also designed to get organizations to move before they lose their chance. Whether or not the public will understand, and use, these is a different story. Instead, I see value in an existing company (with some cash) to consider finding a two-character gTLD, that is not already assigned through the ccTLDs, and rolling its URL own shortener service.

What is also not clear is what happens when two valid organizations in different spaces apply for the same gTLD. If Champion (spark plug makers) and Champion (t-shirt makers) apply for .champion, how is that sorted out and is the application fee lost for the loser of that decision? Here’s ICANN’s answer from the FAQ:

It is not feasible for two or more identical strings to occupy the Internet space. Each name must be unique. If there are two or more applications for the same string (or confusingly similar strings), the String Contention procedures would come into effect. Refer to module 4 of the Applicant Guidebook for more detailed information regarding the String Contention procedure.

Module 4 defines two methods in the String Confusion Dispute Resolution process to address this (with the presumption that the parties at odds with one another weren’t able to sort it out on their own):

  1. Community priority evaluation,
  2. Auction

The first one only applies to community-based organizations and an unspecified deposit is required to participate. The second one, the auction, isn’t allowed when the extension is for a geographic name. The document then goes into detail outlining the concept of an auction along with general rules (currency, defaulting, etc). At that point, it truly is a pay-to-play scenario.

Conclusions?

Given how many users still type a web page address into Google search, will the new gTLDs really matter? I’m not sure I understand the problem hat ICANN thinks it is solving, or the business case to justify the purchase, but I am also not privy to the players on the board or the pressure they might be getting elsewhere.

The video below shows the vote — well, it shows the vote for the change, but pans away so you don’t see how many voted against this or abstained (13 for, 1 opposed, 2 abstentions).

Related

Update: 10:15pm

Mashable, a resource I generally consider good for quickly covering stories but not so good for providing much depth, has taken some time today to review the ICANN guidebook for the new gTLDs and put together the post 9 Things You Need to Know About ICANN’s New Top Level Domains. It’s not terribly detailed, but it does provide a good, quick overview if you need to know something right now. You know, because January is right around the corner.

Update: June 13, 2012

ICANN has announced the list of requested gTLDs. I provide links and list some my favorites at the new post ICANN Announces Requested gTLDs.

Update: May 8, 2013

The marketing manager for names.co.uk guest-writes a post at .net Magazine (“Google sets precedent for new gTLDs to be open“) detailing how Google may be opening up any of the new gTLDs it acquires, instead of restricting their use to just Google brands. The writer hopes others will follow Google’s lead.

5 Comments

Reply

I want a .vs TLD! Apparently there is no country that would be eligible to claim it.

Reply

Actually there might be, just like South Africa uses ZA countries like Vatican City and Vietnam could decide to use it but they are using as of current .va and .vn respectively

Reply

If you ask me it is a big scam. ICAN who pray of being a nonprofit business came up with this outrages and ridiculous prices. I am sure ICAN IS A BUSINESS created and founded by current Internet service providers like godaddy. Godaddy is a great example, a business that makes billions of dollars and provably don't want competition. They can afford to purchased as many TLDs. But me as a new disabled business owner where would I come up with $200k for application fees and a yearly fee of $25k plus .18 cents per domains sale. There is no help for the poor.! No chance of advancement.

It is all a big scam!

In response to JACINTO RIVERA. Reply

Jacinto, while I agree the expense of a custom domain *extension* (not domain name, just in case you are confusing the two) is high, that was partly the point. There is administration overhead that comes with the extension, something Google can afford to manage (for .google), but I cannot (for .roselli) and ICANN would have to take it on itself at great expense.

I do not know your business case for needing a domain extension, but for the most part I consider it a frivolous expense for all except entire industries or major brands.

You can register a domain for your own use at one of the many available extensions (.com, ,net, .org, assorted country domains, .museum, .aero, .name, etc.), and even some of the new ones, for ~$10 per year. So in that regard, I think getting your own domain name is very affordable.

Reply

Hello Adrian

After I became disabled, I decided to start a small web hosting business I also develop websites. I always been interested on having my own domain extension for my business so that I could offered directly to my clients as I manage my own servers and administration. I have tried the domain reseller options and the income is not sufficient for the membership they ask you to paid as well unless you are godaddy who makes billions on sale.

I do not have $200k and the majority of Americans don't have that kind of money. I believe ICANN is a business created by current ISP to keep the market for themselves and the competition out. I am not saying ICANN doesn't do any work, but I see how their main focus is to keep competition off. I don't believe the application fee comes near the administration cost because I know of people that set their DNS servers and created their own extensions and their zone all accessible global nearly in 3 hours. I have seen it. Take for example openic who is currently offering domain extensions and they are not even related to ICANN in anyways.

I think I will Take my chances on filing my trademark obtain my service marks and create my own DNS servers and my own extension. If .biz did it can't be that dificult.

It sad me because, I came to the U.S. Looking for advancement and all I see is a big scam and monopoly that doesn't allow the poor move up from under their feet. We talk about having an open web for everyone but is not it is controlled by business bureaucracy .

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