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Wednesday, 19 December 2012 06:43

.com is so 20th century – Welcome to ICANN’s great domain name auction

By

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has held its lottery draw for 1,930 new sponsored global top level domains (gTLDs).

Successful bidders will be able to use gTLDs like .christmas and .sport, giving their organisations a significant marketing advantage on Internet search engines. The ICANN “prioritisation draw” was held in an all-day event at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton, complete with a barrel girls and the razzamatazz of a Lotto draw.

The main purpose of the draw was to determine the order in which ICANN will evaluate the applications. Each applicant paid US$185,000 to ICANN, but if there were multiple applications for the same name, then those applicants must try to decide between themselves who will be the candidate. They might draw straws, have a private auction, or set a joint venture to share the domain name.

If they cannot decide, then ICANN will hold an auction limited to the applicants and keep the money. It has already made $350 million from the application process – by such methods does ICANN fund its operations. The top five contested TLDs are:

  • .play has four applicants (one of them is Amazon )
  • .dog has three applicants
  • .party has two applicants
  • .energy has two applicants
  • .food has three applicants.

Many Australian organisations made applications, mostly through Australian wholesale registration company ARI. Top Australian applicants were:

  • .select (iSelect, number 173)
  • .ceo (CEOTLD, number 206)
  • .monash (monash university, number 338)
  • .study (open universities, number 349)
  • .melbourne (State of Victoria, number 350).
  • .cba (Commonwealth Bank, number 378
  • .amp (AMP, number 608.
  • .woodside (Woodside Petroleum, number 938).

Other Australian applications included .webjet (Webjet) and .ubank and .nab (National Australia Bank. Many cities registered their names, as did major IT companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco and IBM. Corporations registering their brand names who appeared in the first 500 in the draw included Fiat, Epson, Omega, Hermes, Bridgestone and McDonalds.

One key feature of the new gTLDs is the ability to have names in non-roman scripts, such as Chinese, Cyrillic and Korean. The Catholic Church, for example, applied for .catholic in a number of scripts. The Chinese version was first in the draw. Over 100 such applications were received, and were given priority over applicants in the Latin script.

ARI Registry Services CEO Adrian Kinderis was at the Los Angeles event, and spoke to iTWire after the draw. ARI is the only Australian wholesale domain name register, and is the fourth largest in the world and the largest outside the US.

ARI has signed 161 contracts to provide the technical support for new gTLD applicants, equating to almost 10% of gTLD applicants (the Catholic Church is one of its applicants). "It's been a long and exciting day, but it's a fantastic outcome to have nearly a third of our clients in the top 500,” Kinderis said. “The process is moving along full steam ahead and we can't wait until delegation in mid 2013. We will be right in the thick of it.”

Because ICANN will have to vet each application, getting a higher position in the draw makes a big difference to how soon a successful applicant can start using its domain name. “Coming a thousand places higher in the draw could make a year’s difference,” said Kinderis. Melbourne, for example, came in at 350, but Sydney’s position of 1352 means it will have to wait.

The original generic TLDS date from the 1980s, when seven were defined (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org). In 2000 seven new TLDs were introduced (.biz, .info, .name, .pro, .aero, .coop, and .museum). ICANN took over responsibility for allocating names from the US Government in 1999.

“Internet users are likely to see the first new gTLDs appear from the technology and automotive sectors as early as July next year,” said Kinderis. “The draw provides the first indication of what the 21st century Internet landscape will look like.

“We're now one step closer to seeing new Top Level Domains go live and it's exciting for us to play a major role as a technology provider that will help turn all of this hype into a reality."

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson sadly passed away in Jan 2021 and he was always a valued senior associate editor at iTWire. He was one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is the author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’He was in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism. Graeme will be sadly missed by the iTWire Family, Readers, Customers and PR firms.

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