Google, Amazon – and conflicts – dominate potential new Internet domains

Let the negotiations begin.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on June 13 published 1,930 new generic top-level domain names that have been applied for under its gTLD expansion program, from .aaa (by the American Automobile Association) to .zulu (by Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd.).

And perhaps the most notable aspect of the list is the number of potential domains that drew multiple applicants.

Related coverage:

ICANN kicks off Internet's largest expansion in history

Google, through a company called Charleston Road Registry Inc., appears to be the most active player in what promises to be the greatest expansion of Internet real estate (there are four applications for .realestate) with about 101 domain names applied for, including Google staples such as .google and .android. Amazon had the second highest number of applications at 76, followed by a company named Top Level Domain Holdings with 70.

Microsoft applied for 11 names, focusing on its own brands, from .azure to .xbox.

With 231 possible new domain names receiving multiple applications, there is likely to be a lot of horse-trading in the coming months, as the 751 applicants that face competition hash out the conflicts. ICANN said it encourages applicants to settle their differences among themselves, but the organization can step in to mediate if necessary. The last recourse would be an auction for the disputed names, which no one involved in the process wants to see.

ICANN president Rod Beckstrom, who called the release “a historic day for the Internet,” said the evaluation for each batch of about 500 applications is expected to take up to five months, and the first delegations of new gTLDs is expected to come late in the first quarter of 2013.

The release of the applicant information opens a 60-day public comment period and a seven-month formal objection period. Evaluation of the applications will begin in July.

Beckstrom said the gTLD expansion is being done to increase competition and consumer choices on the Internet and that ICANN is not picking winners and losers. It will be up to the market to decide which domains thrive and which languish. But the application list does offer some clues about which names are attractive to the potential registries that have applied for them.

The most desired gTLD apparently is .app, which drew 12 applicants, including Amazon and TLD Holdings. Other names with competition include .home, with 10 applicants, and corporate designations such as .inc (10 applicants), .corp (seven), .llc (nine) and .ltd (seven).

 Also in demand are:

  • .blog (nine applicants)
  • .cloud (seven, including Symantec and Amazon)
  • .mail (eight)
  • .movie (eight)
  • .music (eight)
  • .news (seven)
  • .now (six)
  • .online (six)
  • .sale (five)
  • .shop (nine)
  • .site (five)
  • .store (seven)
  • .tech (six)
  • .tickets (five)
  • .vip (six)
  • .web (seven)

Nobody applied for .comedy, but two applied for .lol and seven are looking for .love.

A company called United TLD Holdco Ltd. showed a bent toward the military and politics, with applications for domains including .airforce, .army, and .navy, as well as .democrat and .republican. It made 23 applications in all, most of them for more generic names such as .bar, .pub and .ninja.

Such portfolios could be valuable when the horse-trading over domain names begins. Applicants paid initial fees of $5,000 each, as well as $185,000 for each application filed. Alexa Raad, CEO of the TLD consulting firm Architelos and former CEO of the .org registry, said applicants will likely give up claims to some disputed names in exchange for rights to others. It also is possible that some will be in the market to sell their claims for a profit in order to avoid an auction, although Raad said she hoped that would not be the rule.

Each applicant must act as a TLD registry if a domain name is delegated to it, and ICANN will vet each applicant’s financial, organizational and technical abilities to maintain a registry. Running a TLD registry involves not only selling or allocating second-level domains to customers but operating the domain name system that publishes names and addresses to the Internet.

Raad said this is not a simple job. “Those of us who have launched and operated TLDs learned the hard way.” ICANN requirements for new registry operators are built on those lessons, she said.

There were applications from 60 countries, but Western countries dominate the gTLD expansion with 911 applications coming from North America and 675 from Europe. There were 303 from the Asia-Pacific region, 24 from Latin America and 17 from Africa.

Included in the applications are 116 Internationalized Domain Names in non-Roman scripts.

Adding internationalized names is seen as necessary to keep the Internet from being fragmented by countries establishing their own local Domain Name Systems because of restrictions on alphabet use.

“I was very pleased to see 116 applications” for the internationalized names, Beckstrom said during a London news conference announcing results of the program. “It’s very encouraging.”

ICANN has collected about $350 million in fees in the New gTLD program and has refunded about 1 percent of that. Beckstrom said the goal is for ICANN to cover the expenses for the program without making a profit. The Internet community will determine what will be done with any money left over, he said.

ICANN offered refunds to applicants after a security problem that shut down its online application system for more than a month in April and May. Beckstrom said 154 applicants have requested full or partial refunds, totaling about $3.5 million.


About the Authors

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.


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