The ICANN registration process for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) finally draws to a close today, with many companies rushing to complete their applications before midnight.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) expects to receive around 2,300 applications for new gTLDs in total, but said yesterday that there were still over 500 incomplete applications in the TLD Application System (TAS).
A list of applied-for domain names will be announced at a “Reveal Day” event in London on 13 June, to be followed by a two-month formal comment and objection period, according to ICANN.
The launch of “dot-anything” gTLDs is expected to usher in a new era for the domain name system, enabling organisations to register domains such as .shop or .bank alongside existing gTLDs like .com and .org. The new gTLDs could also include geographical names like .London and .Paris, company names like .Nike and .Coke, and even non-Latin suffixes.
The strategy promises to broaden the scope of the internet and move it away from a US-centric domain structure.
However, the application process has suffered numerous delays, due to concerns over trademark infringement and “cybersquatting”. Since 2005, ICANN has conducted over 45 public consultations on the plan, and several protections have been put in place to address concerns by trademark owners that they will have to defensively register many new domain names.
Meanwhile, ICANN was forced to bring down TAS on 12 April, after it found a software glitch in the way the application system handled attachments. The system was not restored until 21 May, raising the ire of applicants, each of whom are paying $185,000 (£118,000) to apply, and causing further delays.
“It hasn't been ICANN's finest hour and no doubt the whole process will reignite the debate about whether they are best placed to run and manage the internet,” said Dave Thomas, UK head of domain marketplace Sedo.
For the time being, however, all eyes are on Reveal Day. Thomas said that generic terms like .web or .music have the potential to make waves if given the right exposure and marketed effectively, while companies will get a bigger shop window to market their brands.
“We already know that brands such as Canon have registered their interest, but for my money the mega brand that offers the most potential is Google. They might have simply registered the domains in order to protect their brand, but you'd like to think that with their history for web innovation they are gearing up to do something really special,” he said.
“One of the big concerns about the new gTLDs has been that consumers won't trust them, but if Google uses its new domain names effectively it could well spearhead another transformation of the internet.”