Whoever said there wasn't enough room in Munich this time of year for anything but the mighty Oktoberfest clearly underestimated the draw of the new Top-Level Domain Program and the interest within Europe.
The NewDomains.org conference held in Munich over the past two days confirmed three important insights for me; one: there is a large audience of brands and entrepreneurs who still have little awareness about the new Top-Level Domain program; two: those that are aware of the program and would like to participate are seriously behind schedule in preparing their application and strategy to submit to ICANN during the application window from 12 January to 12 April 2012.
The third insight was the excitement generated from our announcement regarding AusRegistry International's appointment to operate the registry for the .jewelers new Top-Level Domain. Having spent a great deal of time on this project, it was very rewarding to be able to share the news at the NewDomains.org conference and I was pleased with the positive feedback I received from many of the attendees.
As with most conferences within the domain name industry, the usual suspects attended; the registries, the registrars, the 'ICANN crew' and the plethora of industry experts and consultants. However, I'm happy to report there is genuine interest from the European community about the upcoming Internet revolution and they came out with great interest for the first new Top-Level Domain conference in Europe.
While the crowd was not made up of a lot of potential applicants (as a lot of the exhibitors would have liked), there was a very noticeable presence from the intellectual property and trademark community eager to find out about the program and its implications to their corporate clients.
The two day agenda ran very smoothly and kudos should be given to United Domains who were in charge as it was truly run with German efficiency. There was also a good ICANN contingent with the presence of ICANN Chairman Dr Stephen Crocker, ICANN's Senior VP of the new TLD program Kurt Pritz, as well as the very knowledgeable Olof Nordling, ICANN's Director of Service Relations.
Although there were few answers to the unresolved detail of the Applicant Guidebook, it was good to see the questions asked of ICANN and a necessary cohesion with the questions being asked.
One important topic that was addressed came from Kurt Pritz's presentation and side discussion about how ICANN intends to process the applications it receives during the application window. This is a critical issue for applicants because ICANN has previously said it may process the applications in batches, meaning that some applicants may have their applications sitting idle while others could be delegated are ready to go live.
Although Mr Pritz confirmed that ICANN is yet to come to a firm conclusion on how it will process applications, he did say they may be batched in groups of around 500 and that these may be prioritised based on the objective of the application.
I for one support this approach and believe priority and preferential treatment should be given to applicants who have business plans that demonstrate they will use their string immediately.
Other important topics discussed included:
Although the ICANN community does not have any solid answers to these questions just yet, we hope to have these addressed soon as we edge closer to the opening of the application window in January.
All in all it was great to see a good turnout and genuine interest. However, it is also fair to say that it is concerning how far behind the eight ball a lot of the attendees are and it begs the question: Will they make it in time?
My advice to those sitting on the sidelines is: You must get moving now or miss the boat! There are only 105 days until the application window opens and you will need all that time to get your new Top-Level Domain application and strategy ready.
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