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New gTLDs: What About 10 Years Ago?

Jean Guillon

In 2003 — what did we have in terms of domain names?

In 2003, the .AERO, .BIZ, .COOP, .INFO and .NAME Registries were just born. The . .MUSEUM Top-Level Domain was born that very year and .ASIA, .CAT, .JOBS, .MOBI, .PRO, .TEL and .TRAVEL did not exist yet. However, .EU was on its way. Although this particular TLD was a country code Top-Level Domain targeted at the European Union, it was awaited for by many brands in its Sunrise Period.

.EU brought something new to the Domain Name Industry and many corporate Registrants wanted to secure their brand in .EU. It was launched on its own, with no other TLD launches in sight, so there was quite a lot of buzz around it.

Ten years ago, Registrants predominantly used .COM .NET and .ORG domain names but I still remember the buzz around these "new" domain names: brands and other webmasters just HAD to grab one. I grabbed a .INFO and my family name as a .NAME. I remember there was a fear of allowing someone else to register your family name and stealing it away from the rightful owner: smith.name and johnsmith.name had to belong to Mr Smith…

I was already in the domain name business and was convinced that all "media" sites would change into a .INFO. Since .NAME was there, I was also sure that all individuals would swap their personal email for one ending in .NAME: all service providers had an offer for this. Will new .EMAIL domain names bring the same kind of reaction when it launches? Will Registrants want to secure their .EMAIL for their personal email? Only time will tell.

10 years ago, it was not as easy as today to launch a website so it was a sort of game to grab a "prohibited" domain name and launch a website around it… just to be different.

"Prohibited domain name" you said? What I call "prohibited domain names" were domain names blocked by specific registration rules: .TRAVEL was a nightmare for a Registrant but .PRO could be "hacked", it was only a matter of providing a fake company registration number. I remember you could only grab second level domains at that time. Fortunately, first level domains were at last opened to everyone and now you can see all kind of service providers in Paris using .PRO domain names. It took almost ten years…

The .TEL was a revolution: all companies were going to use a .TEL domain name as their contact page. I use it and it is pretty efficient and reliable, but even in 2013… no one knows what a .TEL domain name is about, apart from a few companies and domainers. Can you name a company which uses a .TEL domain name? Is it because a company won't use an alternate domain name, to confuse its readers?

In 2013, new gTLDs bring something different and with a different approach to consumers. I had the chance to launch the .EU Registry and when we launched, the communication budget was huge. The Registry was the only one to launch so consumers interested in domain names were very open to .EU domains. Eight years later, I note that interested parties in domain names pay attention, not the general public…

Today, new gTLDs offer a different approach: consumers are starting to hear about new domain names on Television; which had never been the case before. Also, the number of new domain names soon to be offered is huge so it is not a matter of one Registry to communicate on its new extension but a matter of hundreds of them to spread the message, non-stop, to possible consumers. This is quite a different approach but will it make a difference? Will potential Registrants "buy" the idea? Will it become a "must have" to use a .DATE domain name when you are looking for love? Will accounting companies change to a .ACCOUNTANT website? Will retail stores go for a .SALE?

I believe chances are higher for businesses to register and probably change to a new domain name for two reasons:

1. most of the new Registries are open ones, and none of them want to face the results of a closed Registry like the .MUSEUM which, as for today, has had only 435 domain names registered since...2003.

2. .SCIENCE is for Science as well as .BOOK is for authors and .TRADE is for trading companies, there is no .COM confusion here.

The future is ahead of us and we can be quite sure of something: new gTLDs are "new", let's see how Internet is transformed by them. We shall check on this and — probably — re-write this article in 2023.

By Jean Guillon, New gTLDs "only".
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Jean, you are ignoring a very important Alex Tajirian  –  Jan 27, 2014 11:23 AM PST

Jean, you are ignoring a very important success factor, namely, the implied TLD’s signal/message (see http://www.circleid.com/posts/dot_biz_saga/).  Additionally, .Tel, for example, had an uphill battle from the get go with a TLD that does not lend itself to a thick secondary market and with content that can be easily accessed on corporate sites (albeit not in a consistent format).

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