Shortly before 8am UTC today, ICANN announced that it plans to blur the lines between domain name registries and registrars by eliminating cross-ownership restrictions and enabling vertical integration of the two functions.
The shock move is likely to have profound repercussions on the domain industry for years to come.
I’ve spent the last ten hours collating a bunch of early reaction from Twitter and the blogosphere.
Like blind men groping an elephant, everyone had their own take on the news, which perhaps indicates how broad-reaching its effects will be.
Linkfest coming up.
Apparently the first to notice the news, which came just before midnight in California, was AusRegistry, the Australian registry services company, with this pithy tweet:
Any Registrars wanting Registry software can enquire within…
The company later followed up with a blog post:
The positives of this resolution is that it is highly likely that we will see the adoption and growth of smaller more boutique TLDs being championed to market by their Registrar owners and for many industry participants, anything that promotes the success of the new gTLD program and the reduced risk of Registry failure can only be seen as a good thing.
As Europe woke up to the news, Michele Neylon of Irish registrar Blacknight decided to eschew diplomacy, and pondered the possible fallout from ICANN’s decision:
Now the next question is – what next?
How will people react?
Are we going to see a flood of nastygrams from Afilias and PIR being sent to the ICANN board demanding them to backtrack?
Across the pond, Minds + Machines CEO Antony Van Couvering quickly rattled off a typically eloquent blog post that focussed on what he seems to see as ICANN’s sudden spine growth:
This is the only principled decision the ICANN Board could have come to, and they deserve a lot of credit for doing it. By “principled,” I mean taking ICANN’s stated institutional principles and following them to their logical conclusion.
The new landscape will require everyone in the domain name business to re-examine their business, their partners, their strategy. It will have consequences between those I enumerated above. It will re-invigorate the industry, and it will help establish the respect that ICANN has lacked for so long.
Another new TLD applicant, Constanine Roussos of .music tweeted:
ICANN allows Vertical Integration for new top-level domains. .MUSIC is thrilled. #ICANN makes history. The lobbying effort was well worth it
Over in Japan, Jacob Williams of new TLD consultants UrbanBrain reflected some of the industry’s shock that ICANN went against many observers’ expectations.
This announcement is a full 180 degree turn from the verbiage in DAG 4 and the resolutions passed at the public meeting in Nairobi earlier this year. This decision comes huge surprise, but surely a relief to many New gTLD applicants.
On the policy side of things, veteran ICANN commentator Danny Younger expressed surprise of a different kind on his new ICANNology blog:
I’ve been wondering how an ICANN Board session that is “not designated as an Official Board Meeting” can result in official Board Resolutions.
If the meeting is specifically not designated as “special”, but rather as a board “retreat”, should official board resolutions be promulgated at the conclusion of such sessions?
Fellow policy wonk George Kirikos tweeted:
“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” applies to #ICANN’s latest moves.
Former ICANN staffer Kieren McCarthy tweeted, less ambiguously:
Good call #ICANN Board. Recognizing the realities of new top-level domains and standing up for principles over pressure
Finally, EnCirca, a US-based registrar, tried to pick winners and losers and concluded that it is the “.brand” TLDs that will gain the most, and that it is the registrars that are in for a shake-up.
the real winners will be the major brands on the internet: Apple, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Microsoft. Any one of these could launch their own TLD to rival dot-com.
Who are the biggest losers? The Registrar channel. Registrars will no longer be assured of being able to offer new TLD’s to their customers. Registries will start to bypass their registrar partners and deal directly with end-users.
Registries and registrars will need to start innovating to remain relevant. It is time to start competing.
As you might expect, there has been not much reaction yet from those, such as Go Daddy, which opposed full vertical integration.
But Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s president, tweeted within the last hour:
Let the games begin