.radio gTLD applicant joins the GAC

Kevin Murphy, June 28, 2012, Domain Policy

The European Broadcasting Union, which is one of four applicants for the .radio top-level domain, has asked to join ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee as an observer.

It is believed that its request is likely to be accepted.

The move, which comes just a couple of weeks after ICANN revealed its list of new gTLD applications, could raise conflict of interest questions.

While several GAC governments and observers are backing new gTLD bids – the UK supports .london, for example – they’re generally geographic in nature and generally not contested.

But .radio has been applied for by Afilias, BRS Media and Donuts in addition to the EBU.

While any organization can file objections against applications, under the rules of the new gTLD program the GAC has the additional right to issue special “GAC Advice on New gTLDs”.

Consensus GAC advice is expected to be enough to kill an application.

Since it’s not entirely clear how the GAC will create its formal Advice, it’s not yet clear whether the EBU will have any input into the process.

According to the GAC’s governing principles, observers do not have voting rights, but they can “participate fully in the GAC and its Committees and Working Groups”.

The EBU’s .radio gTLD would be open to all potential registrants, but it would be subject to post-registration content restrictions: web sites would have to be radio-oriented, according to the application.

It’s also the only Community-designated bid in the contention set, meaning it could attempt a Community Priority Evaluation to resolve the dispute.

The EBU has also applied for .eurovision, the name of its annual singing competition, as an uncontested dot-brand.

Afilias’ magic number is 305

Afilias is involved in 305 new gTLD applications, the company has just announced.

Thirty-one of the bids are being filed in Afilias’ own name, the rest are for clients. This two-pronged strategy is probably going to set the company apart from its main competitors; we’ll find out for sure tomorrow.

Afilias said in a press release:

The applications span a range of new TLD ideas, and include 18 Internationalized TLDs (for example, Chinese and Cyrillic), four community domains, four geographic domains and more than 170 “dot Brand” names.

Added to Neustar’s 358 and Verisign’s 220 applications, Afilias brings the total number of wannabe gTLDs signed up to incumbent gTLD registry service providers to 883, or about 45% of the new gTLD market.

Crossovers from the ccTLD world to disclose so far include ARI Registry Services (161), Nominet (seven), Nic.at (11) and Afnic (16).

New entrants include Minds + Machines (92, including 68 of its own), Demand Media (at least 307 with Donuts and 26 more of its own) and Internet Systems Consortium (at least 54 with Uniregistry).

Survey says 44% of brands to apply for gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 15, 2012, Domain Registries

Forty-four percent of major consumer brands plan to apply for dot-brand top-level domains, according to a survey carried out on behalf of Afilias.

The research, carried out in the UK and US by Vanson Bourne, found that only 82% companies were aware of their ability to participate in the the new gTLD program.

That’s a high number, but it still suggests that almost one in five companies are still completely oblivious about the program, despite months of media coverage and ICANN outreach.

Of those companies stating that they are aware of the program, 54% plan to apply and 40% are still thinking about it.

The survey covered 200 consumer-facing businesses with 3,000-10,000+ employees and was carried out in February.

.me beating .co in start-ups?

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2012, Domain Registries

The .co top-level domain may have more registrations, but more tech start-ups are opting for .me domain names, according to an informal study.

Doctoral student Thomas Park compiled a list of 1,000 start-ups added to TechCrunch’s CrunchBase database last year and found that entrepreneurs chose .co 1% of the time, versus 1.7% for .me.

As caveats, the difference between the two TLDs only works out to seven companies and .me, which launched in 2008, does of course have a two-year head start over .co.

I’m also guessing that CrunchBase has an English-language bias, which could skew the results. While .co has meaning in more countries it lacks the call-to-action punch of .me in English.

Nevertheless, I think the results are interesting because .CO Internet heavily targets start-ups in its marketing and currently has twice as many domains under management (over 1.1 million) as doMEn, the Afilias/Go Daddy joint-venture .me registry.

Park’s results show that .me had a 0.50% share in 2010 and a 0.80% share in 2009 while .co managed to get one company (0.10%) on the list during the half of 2010 it was live.

The survey found that .com is the runaway first choice for entrepreneurs, with about 85% of the start-up market, but you knew that already.

M+M wins contract for ‘laptops and lederhosen’ gTLD

Kevin Murphy, January 20, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines has won governmental approval for its .bayern new gTLD application, according to the company.

The Bavarian state government has said it will back a bid for .bayern from Bayern Connect, which is majority-owned by M+M parent Top Level Domain Holdings, TLDH said today.

According to its press release, M+M will provide the back-end registry services, which strongly suggests that it does not plan to outsource to Neustar on this occasion.

Bayern Connect is not the only company to have announced a .bayern application, however.

Rival applicant PunktBayern, which is backed by United Domains and InterNetX among others, has been public about its plans for a couple of years too. Last year, it selected Afilias to provide its registry back-end.

If the Bavarian government is offering its exclusive support to Bayern Connect, as TLDH now says, it puts a serious question mark over the viability of the PunktBayern bid.

Under ICANN’s rules, any gTLD purporting to represent a state must secure the support or non-objection of the relevant government. Without that support, applications will be rejected.

PunktBayern does have a registered trademark on “.bayern”, however, so the tussle may not be quite over yet.

Bayern is the German name for Bavaria. The state has a population of about 12.5 million and quite a strong sense of its own identity.

It’s often referred to as the land of “laptops and lederhosen” due to a long-running government policy of friendliness to the tech industry.