New gTLDs: Great New Idea Or Waste of Time?

Whether or not new gTLDs will get the go-ahead at this month’s ICANN meeting in Singapore is uncertain. Many believe they will, but intellectual property interests are still demanding flesh. They seem to have an insatiable demand for more and more, never satisfied.

But are they warranted is a question writer and consultant John Levine has asked in a recent post. Levine gave four reasons for new gTLDs, these being:

  • More competition
  • More Innovation!
  • ICANN promised they would in 1998
  • Lots of money.

Levine does not believe that any new gTLDs will bring competition. Nor does he believe the new gTLDs will be innovative citing examples of other new gTLDs that haven’t exactly set the world on fire. And even more innovative gTLDs such as .TEL and .NAME Levine says aren’t, in his eyes, overly successful.

He also thinks that as it will cost upwards of half a million dollars to establish a new gTLD with ICANN fees, lobbying and more there is not much chance of new gTLDs being innovative.

But I disagree with Levine. Maybe ICANN will make “endless millions of dollars” but surely the point is not for the new gTLDs to be necessarily innovative, but to provide a service, to provide choice.

For example, in Germany with 14.4 million domains registered, it is not necessarily easy to get a memorable domain name for your existing business. So a gTLD such as .BERLIN for Berliners will give an alternative. As it will in other German cities or regions. But other countries are likely to see cities and regions establish successful gTLDs.

Whether proposals such as .MUSIC or .SPORT will be successful are debatable to this writer, but they should be free to try at their own risk. And major brands are likely to see the idea as another weay of marketing.

There will be winners and losers in new gTLDs if they are ever approved by ICANN. But just because they won’t be doing something innovative is not a reason to can the idea. And they might even make things a little easier for registrants in countries such as Germany.

So let there be choice, let the trademark interests give a little bit instead of constantly taking, and after 13 years since the proposal for new gTLDs was promised by ICANN, let’s get the show on the road.