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Amazon And Google Battle Over ICANN gTLDs

Google and Amazon are fighting over ICANN’s gTLDs including .cloud and .music. The BBC applied for .bbc

On by Thomas Brewster 0

Internet giants Amazon and Google are set to do battle for a significant number of the Internet’s new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), after swamping the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) application process.

After a number of delays, the list of companies who applied for gTLDs was released today, which saw names like .porn, .art and .app get multiple applications.

Google applied for 101 names, whilst Amazon went for 76, but both went for many of the same gTLDs in predictable areas, such as .cloud, .shop, .store, .search, .play, .mail, .music, .movie and .game. Others that the two tech giants will be competing for were not so predictable, including .talk, .spot and .show.

It is likely Amazon and Google will have to outbid each other, and competing applicants, in auctions in the coming months and years as gTLDs roll out.

Where more than one party has applied to operate the same TLD, attempts will be made to resolve the conflict. ICANN is encouraging those competing for the same names to reach an agreement amongst themselves. The last resort will be a “tiebreaker” auction, where the auctioneer will continue to increase the price of the gTLD until all but one of the applicants have backed down.

However, if a community-based application has been made by a group of organisations, that will be given priority and win the domain name. If there is more than one community-based application, then a decision will be handed down by an ICANN panel.

Time to .lol

As previously reported, Google is also going after .lol but will face some competition from new gTLD registry operator Uniregistry, which bid for 81 names.

Talking about the applications, Google told TechWeekEurope it did not have any business plans to share, but said it  was experimenting with domains that it believes will give users options for more diverse, relevant and possibly shorter signposts on the Internet.

ICANN’s CEO Rod Beckstrom told TechWeekEurope there would not be a limit on how many gTLDs a company could get, despite concerns of domination of such domains by richer businesses. It also denied any claims that it was locking out smaller companies by setting the barrier for entry at a high cost.

The application alone cost  £185,000 and there is a $25,000 yearly cost for the winners. ICANN has seen over $350 million come in as a result of the process, but said that covered the cost of dealing with the whole process.

“The programme was opened up as a level playing field,” Beckstrom said. “It was really up to the individual or groups to decide [whether to apply].”

Beckstrom pointed TechWeekEurope to the support programme it was running for “needy applicants”, who thought they needed ownership of a gTLD but could not afford it. There were only three applicants for that support.

Other big-name tech players were not as eager as Amazon and Google. Microsoft only applied for 11 gTLDs, going for product-related names, such as .hotmail and .live. Facebook and Twitter didn’t even bother applying.

the BBC has applied for .bbc, and the Guardian has applied for serveral gTLDs.

ICANN has received 1,930 requests for gTLDs, 675 of which came from Europe. Only 17 came from Africa, which could hint that the cost of applying put poorer nations off.

The evaluation process is due to start in July. Applications will be lumped into four batches, which will be dealt with sequentially – something that is likely to upset those lumped into the latter batches. Each batch will take between four and half to five months to get through.

Evaluations will look at both how suitable a company is for running the applied-for domain and whether it is a good idea to allow the gTLD at all.

Objections

Individuals or companies who have an objection to any of the applications revealed today, have seven months to lodge a complaint. If ICANN’s panels decide an objection is justified, it will deny the application.

Once the process is over, if someone sees a domain being abused in some way, ICANN has the right to take it back.

Outside of excessive cost, the whole idea of gTLDs has come under fire, as opponents argue it will force companies to defensively buy and protect new top level domains.

But will consumers care for these gTLDs? Even ICANN can’t guarantee that. “Our job is to offer consumer choice,” Beckstrom added. “It is up to consumers to pick the winners here. Our job is to ensure the security and stability of those domains.”

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Thomas Brewster
Author: Thomas Brewster
Security Correspondent, TechWeekEurope
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