FairWinds in the Press

June 13, 2012

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From .AAA to .Zulu, ICANN Reveals Generic Top-Level Domain Applications

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CNET’s Paul Sloan calls it "the greatest landgrab in Internet history.” The new gTLD application window that opened on January 12, 2012 and closed on May 30th is finally revealed with all of the gTLD strings applied for during this round announced today at a press conference in London. From .AAA (filed by the American Automobile Association to .zippo, there were 1,930 top-level domainapplications in all, with a few surprises including what wasn't on the list.

“One of the biggest 'reveals' of the day has been the absence of some very significant players: we did NOT see .FACEBOOK, .COKE, .COCACOLA or .PEPSI, .DISNEY, .IKEA, .EBAY, .NINTENDO or .NESTLE or .NESCAFE,” stated FairWinds Partners, which submitted applications on behalf of clients such as Allstate (.allstate), Symantec (.antivirus) and SC Johnson (.afamilycompany). “The heaviest-hitting industries are Auto, Finance and Pharmaceuticals. We've also seen many brands apply for generic terms. Google is a big one, of course, with 101 applications in total, as is Amazon.”

What we did see, as the Washington Post notes: "Amazon.com wants '.joy,' Google wants '.love' and L'Oreal wants '.beauty.'" The most coveted domain? .APP.

A 60-day comment period begins today, while Beckstrom stated that it will take 9 to 20 months to process applications.

ICANN revealed that 166 of the claims are for in-language "internationalised domain names" not in the Latin alphabet. "That means that if you're a person living in China or in somewhere in India then you might have the opportunity to use the internet purely in your native script," stated Rod Beckstrom, ICANN president and CEO, to the BBC.

"Starting today, the Internet business model has changed. Innovation online will necessarily come to all businesses, regardless of whether or not they applied for their own new gTLDs,” commented Phil Lodico of FairWinds Partners about the "1,930 applications published today, 1,179 of which will be for unique strings. Most of these will be for branded terms. We will also see many competing applications for popular category terms – 751 applicants applied for the same 230 terms. The top three most popular are .APP, .HOME, and .INC. The next few months will be both chaotic and exciting, but once the dust settles, businesses must become more innovative with their digital strategies to adapt to this new online world."

"It's going to make the internet more approachable for people. Also we're seeing a trend on mobile devices to people liking short names and there will be opportunities for shorter names here, just because what was previously a second-level name now becomes first-level." For example, canon.com/products could change to products.canon.

As for the applications filed by ICANN's deadline, Google applied for .google, .youtube and .lol. Top Level Domain Holdings spent more than $13.5m for 92 applications including .hotel, .cricket, .london and .music. Dubai-based Directi told the BBC it applied for 31 "mass market" gTLDs including .law, .bank and .baby. J&J also applied for .baby, along with .JNJ.

DotHealth, LLC has applied for .Health as the online namespace for global health stakeholders. “.Health will improve user’s ability and confidence to discover, access and utilize health-related information and resources in a trusted and secure environment,” says Andy Weissberg, CEO of DotHealth. 

“With increased adoption of the Internet and its expanded role in strengthening healthcare systems worldwide, we believe that a broad and diverse range of registrants will value .Health as an attractive solution for promoting and delivering their products and services.” 

And the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has applied to own and operate the new .PHARMACY generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD). 

"The .PHARMACY registry will help us to further protect patients who choose to purchase medications online," states NABP President Michael A. Burleson, RPh. "We will do this by vetting all registrants prior to acceptance so as to ensure that they meet all applicable regulatory standards, including pharmacy licensure, drug authenticity, and valid prescription requirements.”

"Community-based applications" from trade associations or other organizations representing known, sizeable groupings take precedence over "standard applications" from stand-alone businesses and others. So if PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and the Grocery Manufacturers of America have all applied for .cola, the GMA should be given priority notes the BBC.

So far 87 companies and business associations have petitioned the US Department of Commerce claiming "excessive cost and harm to brand owners" and the "likelihood of predatory cyber harm to consumers."

Due to sheer volume of requests Icann will divide and evaluate applications in batches of about 500 with the first to go live between April and June 2013. “Good luck with that. All this is going to accomplish is to pour a lot of money into ICANN's hands—new top-level domains cost as much as $185,000 to start up—and confuse the heck out of consumers,” wrote Business Insider's Owen Thomas. 

“Marketing chiefs everywhere are going to be in a panic trying to figure out if they need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to register their brand name as a string, just to keep it out of mischief-makers' hands. Outside of a few global brands, most won't be able to afford that kind of expense. Meanwhile, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are going to make out like bandits. Why? Because anything that makes Web addresses even more confusing than they already are drives people to type things into a search box.”

Go Daddy, serving more than 10.3 million customers worldwide and the leader for Web hosting, domain name registrations and SSL Certificates has applied for .home, .casa and .GoDaddy, and has announced plans to evolve its brand (beyond high-profile Super Bowl campaigns) with a new marketing campaign called "Inside/Out" that will debut during the London Summer Olympic Games.

“What we want to do now is market in ways that tell people more about what we do to help businesses grow online,” said Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman of the Deutsch-produced campaign. "We've been living in a .com world since the dawn of the Internet. Whenever you're doing something other than .com, it's kind of swimming upstream."

"This is absolutely the future," said Frank Schilling, whose new venture, Uniregistry.com applied to run 54 new top-level-domains, to CNET. "We're at this point where the dot-com name space — the entire name space — is exhausted."

“We could see a leveling of the playing field," FairWinds observed. "What we have seen from our preliminary look at the list is that many smaller companies, ones that you wouldn't have expected to apply, have made significant investments in gTLDs. At the same time, bigger brands, who we would have expected to invest heavily, have either passed on this opportunity or invested minimally. If new gTLDs become popular, we could see an interesting shift in the dynamic between larger companies and smaller companies in the domain name space.”

The international breakdown of gTLD applications:

North America: 911 applications

Europe: 675 applications

Asia-Pacific: 303 applications

Latin American and the Caribbean: 24 applications

Africa: 17 applications

(116 in non-Latin alphabets)

Read the full article on BrandChannel.