ICANN See Clearly Now

Yesterday was the Reveal day for ICANN’s new gTLD program. If you haven’t been following this matter, ICANN (“Internet Corporation for Assignment of Names and Numbers) is allowing organizations to apply for new gTLD’s. Here’s a list of applicants that became public yesterday. This is not a social disease. It stands for “generic Top Level Domain.” What it means is that an entity can obtain a term to use instead of “.com.” For example, Apple has applied for .apple. Of course, .com is not going away, and I can’t figure out why any company would not continue to use that well known format. So I don’t see the upside to this plan. But I can see where large companies and maybe even industries may feel compelled to apply for purely defensive reasons. Here’s what the banking industry did about it for example. In the early days of the Internet, some folks bought domain names and held them hostage, demanding that companies that owned those marks pay big money to get them transferred. We now refer to those people as “cybersquatters” and the problem has been largely eliminated thanks to legislation and an arbitration procedure administered by ICANN. But this new process creates the risk of returning to those bad old days. So I see a downside. Many folks in any number of industries agree. Some big companies applied, but I suspect if you compared the list of Fortune 500 companies to the list of applicants, there would be many more non-applicants than applicants. I think that is the best evidence that there’s not a lot of folks thinking this is a very good idea.