Domain Pulse 2014: After Application Debacles, .BERLIN Ready To Rumble

Domain Pulse conference logoApplicants for new gTLDs have faced a few hurdles to not just get their applications submitted, but also processed and implemented.

First there was the “glitch” that halted for a few months the TLD Application System (TAS) for applications for new gTLDs, then the fiasco of the Digital Archery process to determine the order in which applications would be processed and most recently an expensive and then a complicated Trademark Clearinghouse for brand owners to protect their brands in new gTLD.

These were the hurdles Dirk Krischenowski of dotBERLIN, applicant for .berlin, described that new gTLD applicants faced at the Domain Pulse conference in the Austrian city of Salzburg in front of over 300 attendees attending the annual two day conference, this year hosted by the Austrian (.at) registry nic.at. The conference rotates between Germany (.de), Switzerland (.ch) and Austria.

But .berlin has overcome these hurdles and is ready to rumble with its General Availability due to commence on 18 March. It is also the world’s first cityTLD to accept registrations.

Krischenowski also compared the launches of other TLDs to get an idea of how they evolved over their first year. Looking at .asia, .co, .tel and .xxx he found that at the end of the first month, all of them consistently had around 45 percent of their registrations they at the end of the first year of operation, and that growth rates as a proportion of their current registrations grew very consistently across the four TLDs in the first year.

Having overcome their hurdles, .berlin and other applicants that also spoke on a new gTLD panel outlined how they are moving forward to implement their gTLDs with new opportunities for marketing and branding being important in their implementation.

The European travel agency Tui said that while they were initially focussed on getting the gTLD instead of the New Zealand brewery of the same name, now they are looking at a vision for the brand under .tui.

Alexander Bialas from TUI AG said strategic options for the future are being considered. He also gave examples of some of the ways in which Tui will use their TLD with plans to create destination domains to promote destinations with information on activities, events and eating, for example, as well as direct access to social media (facebook.tui and twitter.tui) so people don’t have to leave the Tui online world.

Another with a view to increasing brand awareness was .tirol. Markus Kichl, CEO of .tirol said the Austrian region wanted to enhance tourism and make businesses easier to find in the region.

Dirk Hamm, Founder and CEO of Valuetainment, the applicant for .voting spoke of how they plan to introduce .voting and use it as a mechanism to enable voter initiatives and online voting, with tools to be available to make voting on a registrant’s website easy to implement.

And Ulrich Retzlaff from the Public Interest Registry, who has applied for .ngo and .ong spoke of how PIR is wanting to give the 10 million non-governmental organisations around the world an opportunity to market themselves, and provide better opportunities for fundraising.

Earlier in the day, Sally Costerton, Senior Advisor to ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé, spoke of the importance of an open internet. Its importance was underlined by a recent Boston Consulting Group report that said in 2018, the global online economy will be worth $4.2 trillion, up from $2.3t in 2010.

But implementing an internet that is free of walls and silos that stifle innovation and take advantage of the opportunities online, information must be accessible, Costerton said.

Costerton also implored attendees to get involved. “Business can make a difference,” she told delegates, “as governments listen” and that the “influence business has on their national government is extremely disproportionate.” To help with influencing governement, Costerton said ICANN will help business to reach out to their governments.

“We owe it to the next billion people to keep the internet open and free and frictionless,” she concluded.