I’m here in Seoul at the ICANN meeting. The third version of the Draft Applicant Guidebook to the new TLDs is out.
As to timing, the initial word is that the process will be kicked even further into the future. ICANN suggested in the opening remarks that the application process itself, intially scheduled for early 2010, may not even start until 2011. There are TLD start-ups out there carrying heavy salary loads and they were not happy to hear this. Of course if the delay is only until September 2010, that may seem like a relief.
Also, there is the issue as to ‘dot brands,’ TLDs consisting of a brand owned by that brand, such as .NIKE or .AMAZON (I’m using those as examples of famous brands, not because I have any reason to believe that those particular companies want those particular TLDs). It has been an assumption that TLD applications would be judged on various technical criteria but the judging would be ‘content-neutral’ (within reason).
Well, the word on the street is that two ICANN board members stated publicly on Sunday that they are opposed to dot brands and will work to reject such applications.
It’s not clear to what extent they can bring that about – but ICANN may wish to clarify this issue before the Fortune 100 each pay $185k in fees to ICANN for dot brands.
Of one thing I am certain – I am glad I did not devote psychic energy to this process two years ago.
The Seoul meeting can be tracked and followed remotely here.