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Aussie telco to apply for dot-brand gTLD

ARI Registry Services has managed to persuade another client to come clean about its dot-brand gTLD plans.

According to a report in the Australian press, Perth-based carrier/ISP iiNet plans to apply for .iinet using ARI for application support.

The report also states that rival telco Optus is mulling its options, while Telstra is saying it will not apply.

ARI has previously announced Singapore telco StarHub and the Australian Football League as dot-brand clients.

AFL to apply for dot-brand gTLD

Kevin Murphy, February 16, 2012, Domain Registries

The Australian Football League has just added its name to the short but growing list of companies announcing plans to apply to ICANN for a new “dot-brand” top-level domain.

The AFL is the governing body of Aussie rules football, a bastardization of the original sport even more violent and less internationally popular than the unwatchable American version.

Like recently revealed dot-brand applicant StarHub, the league has hired Melbourne IT to handle its application and registry back-end provider ARI Registry Services to run the infrastructure.

The Aussie AFL explained its decision to apply for .afl in a press release:

A dot AFL domain has the potential to:

— Make it easier for fans to find relevant online content
— Improve the protection of AFL, club and player environments online
— Support the growth of club and AFL media channels
— Better support the promotion and education for grass roots and community football
— Simplify marketing call to actions
— Provide opportunities for sponsors to promote their association with the AFL and clubs

The AFL may have a clear shot at goal here.

While several other organizations currently use the same acronym, none of them jump out as obvious dot-brand applicants, though some may of course choose to file objections.

The announcement is pretty good news for Melbourne IT and ARI — given Aussie rules’ popularity in their native Australia, I can see this deal getting a lot of local press today.

.sas could be the first contested dot-brand gTLD

Kevin Murphy, February 2, 2012, Domain Registries

Scandinavian Airlines System Group is to apply to ICANN for a generic top-level domain, .sas, in what could turn out to be the first example of a contested dot-brand.

The company has agreed to explain its thinking during The Top Level, a conference happening in London later this month.

The agenda for the meeting states that SAS will deliver a presentation entitled: “SAS: Why we made the strategic decision to apply”.

Linn Drivdal Mellbye of conference organizer CloudNames, the Norwegian registry services provider, confirmed in a tweet minutes ago that the sought-after gTLD is .sas.

The string “SAS” has multiple meanings.

Indeed, for about three minutes this post originally stated — wrongly — that the applicant giving the presentation was the North Carolina software giant SAS Institute.

If the American SAS also applies for .sas, it may have to fight it out with the airline at an auction.

SAS — the Scandinavian one — becomes the second dot-brand applicant to come out in as many days, following StarHub’s news yesterday.

The company is based in Stockholm and employs about 25,000 people.

Exclusive: StarHub confirms dot-brand gTLD bid

Kevin Murphy, February 1, 2012, Domain Registries

Singapore telecommunications firm StarHub will become the fifth company to publicly reveal plans for a “dot-brand” generic top-level domain.

The company, which offers broadband internet, cable TV and mobile telephony and has annual revenue of about $2 billion, is set to announce tomorrow that it will apply to ICANN for .starhub.

It’s the first confirmed dot-brand applicant since ICANN opened the application window January 12. It’s also the first since Neustar announced its own plans last June.

StarHub plans to use the gTLD to enable domain names such as tv.starhub and broadband.starhub.

ARI Registry Services has the contract to run its registry back-end and Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services is its application consultant.

Oliver Chong, assistant vice president of brand and marketing communications at StarHub, said:

We believe the ‘.starhub’ Top-Level Domain will deliver clear marketing and advertising benefits to StarHub, such as improved online brand recall and a more intuitive consumer experience with easy to remember domain names such as ‘mobile.starhub’. We also anticipate potential Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) benefits by operating a more targeted and relevant naming system that is clearly matched with our website content.

To date, only Deloitte, Canon and Hitachi have publicly confirmed corporate dot-brand applications.

Registry services provider Neustar also wants .neustar, but its announcement was a little self-serving so I’m not sure that it “counts”.

We’re also aware of some other likely candidates, such as IBM and Unicef, but most companies are playing their cards pretty close to their chests.

ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis said he hopes the announcement of .starhub will “open the floodgates” for other Asian companies to apply for their own new dot-brand gTLDs.

While it’s a significant revelation – at least likely to drive StarHub’s competitors into action if they’re not already – similar predictions were made when Canon announced its dot-brand bid almost two years ago.

Many registry operators are already predicting as many as 1,000 dot-brand applicants.

I’m not ready to predict a slew of similar announcements just yet, but a confirmed dot-brand bidder will certainly do no harm to registries currently trying to persuade clients to sign on the dotted line.

Verisign to apply for a dozen new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, January 27, 2012, Domain Registries

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.

Melbourne IT involved in 100+ gTLD applications

Kevin Murphy, January 10, 2012, Domain Registrars

Melbourne IT says it has prepared applications for over 100 new generic top-level domains on behalf of clients including members of the Association of National Advertisers.

The registrar’s CEO, Theo Hnarakis, said in a press release:

Big brands from around the world have already engaged with Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services to help them apply for more than 100 new TLDs.

Big name companies in the financial sector, plus the retail and consumer goods industries have shown the most interest in applying so far, and roughly a quarter of the companies we are assisting are members of the Fortune Global 500. Applicants working with Melbourne IT also include members of the U.S. Association of National Advertisers.”

The company agrees with the emerging industry consensus which estimates 1,000 to 1,500 applications between Thursday and April 12, with roughly two-thirds of those “dot-brand” applications.

It’s an open industry secret that many companies ostensibly opposing the new gTLD program with the ANA are also preparing applications, but their level of enthusiasm is still open to question.

Anecdotally, many potential dot-brand applicants appear to be under the misapprehension that a new gTLD application is necessary to defend their brands from top-level cybersquatters, which is not the case.

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