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The 5 Stages of gTLD Shock

PCWorld lists new gTLDs among the 5 major changes facing the Internet in 2012. No doubt the sudden introduction of hundreds of new gTLDs will have a significant impact on the Internet.

I postulate that users will react to new gTLDs by going through the following stages:

Confusion by the sudden explosion of TLDs. Despite extensive media coverage of new gTLDs, most users have no idea that there's life beyond com/net/org and a handful of ccTLDs.

Fatigue as news on gTLD launches will flood the media. Some may attempt to register domains in every TLD; others may roll their eyeballs.

Denial to use domain names and just rely on search engines.

Acceptance that there are lots of TLDs — good and bad. You can't just assume .com anymore. On the other hand, one cannot escape from using them because they are everywhere - on billboards, magazines, the URL bar, and business cards.

Assimilation of a few TLDs that are intimate to the user (I live in .sydney and love to .bike and .surf). Start to form ideas about how trustworthy web sites are based on the TLD of the domain name.

The Internet is a living thing that adapts and evolves. No amount of research can tell the future, but I'd like to believe that new gTLDs will bring about a net positive effect.

By Wil Tan, CTO, Cloud Registry -- innovative TLD registry back-end provider

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Comments

Wil… What we can definitely say is By Paul Tattersfield  –  Jan 05, 2012 8:58 am PDT

Wil… What we can definitely say is

If new .brands take off they will advantage some of the most economically advantaged incumbents. (Think .ibm .dell but what about .hp?)

If users come to see .brands as superior then .brands will disadvantage competition from medium sized players and start ups. Start ups will be hit particularly hard.


@ $185,000 each and $25,000 year on year cost compared with $10 a year for a .com they don’t scale well for companies with lots of brand. Proctor and Gamble with over 80 brands will need to spend over $15,000,000 if they wish to apply for all their brands as new gTLDs and pay ICANN a further $2,000,000 every year going forward compared with the existing system cost of $800 p.a.

Once their competitors move much of the DNS branding advantage is lost but the year on year costs remain. Great for ICANN and their contracted parties, but ultimately that cost has to be borne by consumers.

With its one size fits all approach ICANN has squandered an incredible opportunity to grow the DNS for the wider public good.


(I live in .sydney and love to .bike and .surf).

Moving the beyond the marketing hype the ultimate question is

Do people want or need a website or email address in many or any of these sorts of new gTLD?

I can understand speculators getting excited about the prime generics in some new namespaces, but for a new gTLD to be in the public interest and provide value beyond the domain industry it needs to have real individuals and companies developing out their passions and opportunities.

Most people have multiple passions and associations so it’s difficult to see how or why all but a handful of the most enthusiastic would ever want to maintain a domain name never mind a website for each passion or association.

Getting companies to expend additional resources on their current website in the current economic climate is often quite a challenge, so the idea that they will develop unique content in multiple new gTLDs is probably somewhat optimistic. At best from the new gTLD companies perspectives would be the sales of second level domains which can be redirected to existing sites and at worst would be domains bought to prevent others from doing the same.

Whilst this is unlikely to be damaging to the DNS, it will be years if not decades before there will be anything more than miniscule amounts of traffic (awareness) without very expensive on going advertising campaigns from many individual second level domain site owners.

The more new gTLDs there are the harder this problem will be to solve.

Personally, I don't think brand owners should By Wil Tan  –  Jan 05, 2012 8:14 pm PDT

Personally, I don't think brand owners should be pressured into applying for their respective .brand TLDs, unless they have a clear idea of how to use them, and understand the costs and benefits/drawbacks of being a TLD registry.

For many trademarks, there is ample protection in the process so companies can defend their marks if they feel threatened.

If users come to see .brands as superior then .brands will disadvantage competition from medium sized players and start ups. Start ups will be hit particularly hard.

It's true that .brands may be associated with prestige or "coolness". One may draw the analogy with the modern expectation that no self-respecting online business will use a free provider for its email addresses. However, ".ibm" vs. "ibm.com" is more akin to "ibm.com" vs. "ibm.com.au". The difference in user perception is not huge. IBM decides to forward http://ibm.com.au to http://www.ibm.com/au/ but in Google's case, they prefer to keep their presence in each country identified by the respective ccTLDs.

I think SMEs and startups have their core businesses to worry about than rebranding themselves as a TLD. Joe's Computers would probably want to focus resources on their competitive advantages (e.g. offering expert advice and greater flexibility) over giants like Dell.

With its one size fits all approach ICANN has squandered an incredible opportunity to grow the DNS for the wider public good.

It's easy to criticise but ICANN is in an unenviable position of having to enable competition and innovation without preconceived bias, while catering to the needs of the various stakeholders it represents. It is one-size-fits-all because ICANN needs to be fair.

Two-letter TLD labels are reserved for ISO-3166 so it is just an unfortunate fact of the DNS.

Do people want or need a website or email address in many or any of these sorts of new gTLD?

Probably not for the vast majority of individuals, but businesses may find it beneficial to register domains in some TLD verticals that fit their products and services, e.g. spotify.music, wolfblass.wine.

It's easy to criticise but ICANN is By Paul Tattersfield  –  Jan 12, 2012 9:42 am PDT

It's easy to criticise but ICANN is in an unenviable position of having to enable competition and innovation without preconceived bias, while catering to the needs of the various stakeholders it represents. It is one-size-fits-all because ICANN needs to be fair.

Even ICANN's own economists pointed out that the one size fits all approach is unlikely to get anything like optimum results.

Its very easy to throw around plaudits for encouraging competition however there is competition and there is competition.

For example there is likely to be little competition for registry services because new gTLD companies will get the heavy lifting done by existing registry companies like Afilias & VeriSign.

Or… allowing a contracted entity to compete from the root with a generic string against all others in their vertical who of have to use the second level. This leads to inequities and very expensive litigation e.g. .xxx and .jobs.

There is also… the inference/notion that competition will automatically lead to lower prices, however it is worth noting that smaller existing registries have already asked for equal treatment with new gTLDs and the removal of price caps. 

It will be interesting to see if any innovation does actually come out of the proposal simply replicating the existing registries businesses with different strings could hardly be described as innovative.

Two-letter TLD labels are reserved for ISO-3166 so it is just an unfortunate fact of the DNS.

It isn't an "unfortunate fact" for the existing system only for ICANN's proposal and it doesn't stand alone there are many other serious flaws in the proposal.

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