By Trevor Little
April 12 2012
While ICANN previously stated that the application window for new gTLDs would not be extended, technical issues with the TLD Application System (TAS) have forced its hand – with the window now open until April 20. The news comes in the week that Google revealed it was applying for a number of TLDs.
The application window had been due to close today (April 12) but ICANN has announced that, having “received a report of unusual behaviour with the operation of the TAS system, we then identified a technical issue with the TAS system software”. As a result, TAS will now be shut down until Tuesday – after which “the application window will remain open until 23:59 UTC on Friday 20 April 2012”.
ICANN has not yet announced whether this will impact the planned application reveal date of April 30. While industry waits to see who has applied for what, this week Google confirmed that it plans to “apply for Google's trademarked TLDs, as well as a handful of new ones. We want to help make this a smooth experience for web users - one that promotes innovation and competition on the internet".
Responding to a request from Ad Age, the company did not elaborate on the precise TLDs it would apply for, but reporter Jason Del Rey speculates that applications for ‘.google’ and ‘.youtube’ are likely. Two brands who have seemingly ruled themselves out are Facebook and Pepsi, a spokesperson for the latter predicting that consumer browsing habits will take some years to alter.
This sentiment is echoed by Roland LaPlante, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Afilias. However, he adds that it is brand uptake and promotion of new gTLDS which will be at the forefront of this change in online habits. He told WTR: “Anyone who is contemplating launching a generic term, it is going to be a significant marketing challenge to generate knowledge, awareness and trust in those – people don’t generally trust things they aren’t familiar with. But people are familiar with brands and it will be much easier for those entities to get customers to come to their ‘.brands’ name, as there is already an inherent level of consumer trust in those names and they will give those names the benefit of the doubt. I would guess it will take five to 10 years before there is a significant amount of traffic going to these ‘.brands’, as it takes a significant amount of time to change consumer habits, but I can foresee a day where – just as many brands have decided to open their own retail stores – companies will focus their online activities on the ‘.brand’. Over time, going to, say, a ‘.rolex’ or a ‘.pepsi’ will become more the norm in browser navigation, as people can remember them. Especially for brands where there is a lot of counterfeiting online – you would know that if you went to a ‘.brand’ address you would be getting genuine goods, and you can’t say that with ‘.com’ now.”
As to which brands will be the early adopters, until we hear otherwise the reveal date remains April 30.
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