Verisign plans to apply to ICANN for about 12 new generic top-level domains, according to the executive in charge of registry services.
“We intend to do about 12. Most of those will be transliterations of .com,” senior vice president Pat Kane said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call yesterday.
This does not mark a significant change of strategy – the company has been open about its intention to apply for internationalized domain name variants of .com for over a year – but I believe it’s the first time it’s put a number on it.
It will be interesting to see which gTLDs – if any – Verisign will go for which are not .com IDNs.
My view is that it would make more sense for the company to apply for potentially high-volume .com competitors, such as .web or .blog. It has the capacity, the channel and the cash.
Smaller niche gTLDs may not be worth the distraction and risk, and would be better suited to dedicated registries that can concentrate on more focused marketing.
In any event, we’re going to see some major consolidation in the new gTLD space four or five years from now, and Verisign could well vacuum up cash-making registries at that time.
CEO Jim Bidzos also said on the call that Verisign has been retained to provide the registry for “several” dot-brand applications, but that it will not see any material revenue until 2013.
The major event for 2012, he noted, is the renewal of the .com Registry Agreement with ICANN, which expires at the end of November.
Verisign is already “engaging” with ICANN on this, Bidzos said.
This contract will be posted for public comment and sent to the US Department of Commerce for approval.
I’m expecting controversy, particularly if the contract continues to allow Verisign to increase prices.
It’s going to be harder for Verisign to argue that it needs the extra cash to invest in its infrastructure if it’s also leveraging that infrastructure to win lucrative dot-brand contracts.