Generic Top-level Domains – US Start-up Donuts Applies For 307, But Australian Firms Baulk At Cost: Internet

US start-up applies for 307 generic top-level domains as local firms baulk at cost

By Cara Waters and Michelle Hammond
Wednesday, 06 June 2012

Australian businesses and organisations may have shunned new top-level domain names, but US-based start-up Donuts has applied for more than 300, after raising US$100 million.


Donuts, based in Washington, has applied for 307 generic top-level domains (gTLDs) in an application process administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.


According to co-founder Jon Nevett, Donuts’ gTLD applications are for generic, dictionary terms. Donuts will serve as a wholesale seller of domain names within the gTLDs it purchases.


Nevett said Donuts doesn’t expect many hiccups in the process of buying the gTLDs, describing them as “good, generic terms that will give consumers more choice and benefits”.


ICANN launched the new gTLD program in January, allowing businesses and organisations to apply for new TLDs such as .hotel or .bank, in addition to current gTLDs such as .com and .info.


While the application process comes at a cost of $185,000, Donuts has plenty of money – it recently raised US$100 million in venture capital.


But for Australian companies, the prospect of a top-level domain name seems out of reach – the high cost appears to have dissuaded local businesses from applying.


ICANN has announced that the names of all 1,900 applicants – and the domains they are going after – will be revealed on June 13.


In Australia, the Australian Football League has revealed it is seeking .afl, while internet service provider iiNet is trying to secure its own domain.


Melbourne IT and ARI Registry Services, part of the AusRegistry group, have been acting as agents for 307 organisations looking to secure a domain name.


However, only a quarter of the 146 applications Melbourne IT has processed are for Australian businesses and organisations.


Tony Smith, general manager of communications for Melbourne IT, told SmartCompany the cost for the application process – and then potential registry fees to ICANN of $25,000 a year – has deterred many Australian businesses.


“We have been targeting applications globally. But it is a big investment for a company to do this, so it is really only for serious applicants,” Smith said.


“It is mainly big companies in terms of brands and there are more big brands overseas than in Australia.”


Smith says Melbourne IT is not disappointed by the lack of response from Australian businesses, and more local businesses may apply in the next round of applications.


“We are really happy with what we have achieved,” Smith said.


“Once the first round of names go through, other people will probably look to the next round to apply if it is successful.”


Smith said even if businesses have not applied for a top-level domain name, the evaluation period, which is open for 60 days from June 16, is still relevant.


“It is important for companies that may not have applied but may have concerns about some of the names that have been submitted,” Smith said.


“Say you are Hilton Hotels, and you find on reveal day there are three applicants for .hotel and you see that one of the applications looks very good and has a strong business model, but the others don’t have appropriate policies for business name abuse or models.”


“You have an opportunity to file a comment in support of the strong applicant."


ARI has experienced a similar lack of interest from Australian businesses as Melbourne IT.


“I don’t think Australians embraced it as well as they could have,” ARI chief executive Adrian Kinderis told Fairfax.


The company changed its name from AusRegistry International to ARI Registry Services to make its business more attractive to international clients.


“The ‘Aus’ did make it a bit tougher for our sales guys,” Kinderis said.


Most of the brand names applied for by companies and organisations have not been revealed yet, but some generic names applications have gone on record, including .hotel, .baby and .shop.


Google is seeking 50 domain names, including .google, .youtube and .lol, according to Smith.

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