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First new gTLD registry hub provider launches

Kevin Murphy, June 24, 2012, Domain Services

The first effort to provide a centralized “hub” between domain name registrars and new generic top-level domain registries has hit the market.

Norwegian new gTLD consultant/applicant CloudNames has launched The Registry Hub, and says it will offer more than 70% of its equity to the first companies that sign up for the service.

The problem it wants to address is that of complexity.

With hundreds of new mass-market gTLDs likely to appear over the next few years, it will be hard for registrars to keep track of them all.

The Registry Hub says it will provide a “technical, legal and commercial proxy” between registries and registrars.

It’s not entirely dissimilar to the business models of the reseller-oriented registrars that we see today.

One problem it hopes to tackle is paying registry fees.

It’s standard in the domain name industry today for registrars to pay their registry fees in advance – leaving a deposit with each of the registries they work with, which they chip away at over time.

That’s nice for the registry’s cash-flow, but it’s not going to be great for smaller registrars in a world with a few hundred new gTLDs they might want to sell.

These hub services – I’m expecting to see more announce themselves, soon — would consolidate deposits to make it commercially easier for smaller registrars to sell many more gTLDs.

Smart new gTLD registries will probably find market adoption easier if they can figure out ways to avoid this deposit problem entirely, perhaps by switching to a post-payment system.

The Registry Hub would take a small fee for each domain name registered through its service.

As new gTLDs enter a new phase, the first wave of announcements crashes

Go Daddy, Web.com and the Public Interest Registry were among the first to reveal their new generic top-level domain plans as ICANN’s new gTLD program enters the “reveal” phase.

Announcements from several companies were timed to closely coincide with the closure of ICANN’s TLD Application System at a minute before midnight UTC last night.

After a false start (false end?) on April 12, and weeks of subsequent procrastination, the end of the new gTLD application window seems to have gone off without a hitch.

We’re now entering a new phase of the program, one which is expected to hold far fewer secrets.

Between now and the official Big Reveal, currently targeted for June 13, I’m expecting a deluge of announcements from new gTLD applicants, no longer scared of encouraging competitive bids.

Any company with any hope of standing out from the crowd of almost 2,000 applications needs to make its presence felt as loudly and as early as possible.

.web

The first to do so was number-three registrar Web.com, owner of Network Solutions and Register.com, which confirmed its long-expected bid for .web shortly before midnight.

It’s one of many companies with a claim to the gTLD, in what is certain to be a fiercely fought contention set.

The firm reckons, dubiously, that it has rights due to its trademark on Web.com, which I predict will be anything but a slam dunk argument when it comes to a Legal Rights Objection.

“We believe we possess the natural platform from which to successfully market the new .WEB top level domain since we are the sole owner of the Web.com trademark as issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office,” CEO David Brown said.

I wonder what the other 300 or so owners of web.[tld] domain names think about that.

.bank and .insurance

The Association of National Bankers and the Financial Services Roundtable, both US trade groups for the banking industry, provided the first post-TAS announcement to hit my inbox, at 0006 UTC.

The groups have confirmed their joint bids for .bank and .insurance, having wisely decided against the less SEO-friendly, less intuitive .banking, .invest, .investment, and .insure.

These proposed gTLDs will be secured and restricted, but they still face the substantial risk of objections from European banking regulators.

There’s also one other unconfirmed .bank applicant.

.home and .casa

Go Daddy has also revealed its two applications, giving the scoop to Domain Name Wire. It’s applied for .home and the Spanish translation, .casa, in addition to the previously announced .godaddy.

While they look benign on the face of it, I’m expecting .home to face opposition on technical grounds.

It’s on DI PRO’s list of frequently requested invalid TLDs, due to the amount of traffic it already gets from misconfigured routers.

Go Daddy may also face competition scrutiny if it wants to act as a registry and registrar, given its overwhelming dominance of the registrar market.

Both applications are also likely to find themselves in contention sets.

.ngo and .ong

The Public Interest Registry cleverly got its .ngo and .ong bids some big-readership attention a few hours ago by letting Mashable think it was getting a scoop. Ahem.

To be fair, the .ong application – a translation of .ngo for Spanish, French and Italian markets – was news. Both will target non-governmental organizations, of which there are millions.

The .ong bid stands a reasonable chance of being challenged due to its visual similarity with .org – which PIR already manages – but ICANN’s similarity tool only gives it a score of 63%.

.cloud and .global

Finally this morning, CloudNames announced applications for .cloud and .global, two unrestricted gTLDs being pitched explicitly as alternatives to .com, .biz and .info.

“A .cloud domain will allow businesses and individuals to have their own cloud on the Internet. Likewise, a .global domain will allow businesses to secure a position on an international level,” CEO Rolf Larsen said in a statement.

They’re the first examples of both strings to be announced, but CloudNames expects them both to be contested. I suspect the buzzy .cloud will be the harder to obtain.

Beckstrom to keynote London new gTLDs conference

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2011, Domain Registries

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom will address a half-day conference on new generic top-level domains in London next month, just a few days before ICANN’s application window opens.

The Top Level, scheduled for January 9, is being hosted by Norwegian registry services provder CloudNames, the PR agency Burson-Marsteller and international law firm DLA Piper.

Each company also has an executive speaking, and then there’s a panel discussion.

Although BM is on ICANN’s payroll, having been recently named the recipient of a $900,000 outreach budget, it appears that the conference is not an ICANN initiative.

Tickets for the five-hour event are being sold for €490, or €441 for “early bird” registrations.

It will be presumably one of the last conferences Beckstrom will keynote on his world tour before ICANN starts accepting new gTLD applications, January 12.