Minds + Machines may have lost the support of Al Gore for its .eco bid, but it should not necessarily be dismissed as a contender for the .eco top-level domain.
The Guardian today reported that the former US vice president’s Alliance for Climate Protection campaign has dropped its support for the M+M-backed Dot Eco LLC .eco bid.
It noted that the other public .eco applicant, Big Room, is backed by former Russian premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and it made some tenuous Cold War allusions accordingly:
The global power struggle, with echoes of the cold war, is over control of the new .eco internet domain which could be up and running by 2013.
But the Guardian has learned that Gore’s group has quietly dropped its plan, leaving the door open for Big Room to act as the registry for the new domain.
The reality is of course not quite as exciting, at least not to a general readership. Big Room in fact quickly distanced itself from the hyperbole in a blog post today.
Gore’s group did in fact stop supporting M+M’s .eco bid earlier this year. The site previously dedicated to the project, SupportDotEco.com, went dark for a while before being redirected to M+M in June.
It seems that the once-public M+M .eco project may now be a regular will-they-won’t-they bid.
So while The Guardian fairly reported that Gore is no longer in the running for .eco, that does not necessarily mean Big Room is a shoo-in either.
As I’ve previously commented, publicly announcing a gTLD application means absolutely nothing.
Big Room may secure .eco. M+M may. Any one of a number of potential candidates could win the contract.
Big Room, which has secured support from many organizations in the environmental community, intends to file its bid with as a self-designated “community” application.
Such a designation can enable applicants for contested gTLDs to avoid an auction, if they can score 14 out of a possible 16 points against the very strict criteria set by ICANN.
Big Room has spent a great deal of time building up support and setting proposed policies governing how .eco will be managed. It has some potentially innovative ideas about how to promote corporate responsibility using domain names.
“I hope people don’t try to hold the community hostage about this, I think our community been very transparent about their intentions,” said Big Room co-founder Trevor Bowden. “If this thing goes to auction, this community has no voice whatever. If they have no voice then the potential of .eco will be diminished.”
Minds + Machines, on the other hand, is on-record saying that it does not believe that .eco could possibly qualify as a community bid.
In July, CEO Antony Van Couvering published a piece on CircleID estimating that, with just nine points out of the 14 required to pass a Community Priority Evaluation, it would not.
It seems that “community” backing, even from an environmentalist as high-profile as Al Gore, may not be part of the M+M .eco application strategy.
With M+M parent Top Level Domain Holdings funded sufficiently to apply for gTLDs into double figures, I would not be at all surprised if .eco is among its target strings.
UPDATE (30/9/11): TLDH has confirmed that Dot Eco LLC will apply for .eco. The characteristically blunt press release also has a few choice words about gTLD applications backed by “celebrities”.