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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

USA Today just published an article  about the potential turf wars brewing over ICANN's plans to start rolling out an unlimited number of new global TLD extensions as soon as the end of 

this year. The article by Charisse Jones pointed out that many in the mainstream business community are unhappy about the plan because it could cost them millions of dollars to protect their trademarks and brand names in esoteric extensions that they have no interest in using.

I can see their point and am also of the opinion this is a poorly thought out plan. The USA  

Today reporter interviewed me for this article and we spent over an hour talking about the  ramifications of flooding the market with new TLDs, the vast majority of which would sink without a trace, just as several other new extensions have in recent years. 

Ms. Jones is a diligent reporter and I appreciate the time she spent researching the article and getting a grasp on the subject matter before writing about it (something too few mainstream reporters do when reporting about domain related issues). I do think I should expand on one of my comments that she quoted in which I said ".Com was the only choice in the early years of the Internet, so that has been branded in the public's consciousness. If you're a small businessman and you buy a new extension you've got an uphill fight. It's going to be like being invisible on the Web."

This was part of a detailed conversation that she obviously could not use in its entirety because of her space limitations. As you all know, .com was one of the three original primary extensions (along with .net and .org) but the only one meant for general use, so it was the only real option for businesses, other than network and internet service providers that the .net was intended to represent. As a result .com became synonymous with the Internet in the American public's mind (local ccTLDs held sway in many other parts of the world). 

In 2001 two new global TLDs, .info and .biz, were introduced. The next year America's country code, .us, which had previously been reserved for government use, was opened to the general public. I personally hold many domains in all three of those extensions, so I am certainly not opposed to new TLDs. However I've learned from experience that it takes many years for any new TLD to gain even modest public recognition and use on the Internet. 

After seven years, I've only recently seen the original round of new TLDs gaining some ground among small businesses who want domains that include words or terms no longer available in .com. They continue to be largely  ignored by most major corporations (who acquired .com addresses long ago), other than some foreign companies, like BMW, Hitachi and Club Med, who think in ccTLD terms and use .us for their American operations.

That is why I say that a small businessman who buys a name in a new extension that will only be getting started next year will essentially be invisible on the web for a long  time to come (short of an unimaginably expensive marketing campaign - the likes of which no previous new TLD registry has had the capacity to undertake). 

There is certainly no shortage of available space in the under-utilized new TLDs that have been introduced over the past 8 years, so there is no need for a flood of new extensions when the existing ones are still finding their place on the web. I think the better path would be to continue to release new extensions in a methodical manner where a clear need and viable use can be demonstrated (though ICANN's painfully slow process for doing that could certainly be streamlined). The purpose of extensions in the first place was, like a good filing cabinet, to bring organization and meaning to the naming system. In my opinion ICANN's plan would replace that with clutter, chaos and unnecessary expense for thousands of businesses.

I'm sure you have your own opinions about ICANN's plan and you can make those known to ICANN now - but you need to act quickly as their current public commentary period on the new gTLD issue closes on Monday (April 13). You can let ICANN know your views by posting your opinions on this page at ICANN.org. There are more links and background on these issues in a thread started by George Kirikos at the DomainState.com forum that we encourage you to review.

(Posted April 7, 2009)

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