"The bucks stop here" - well they certainly do in ICANN's case...

A sad shake of the head, a melancholy sigh followed by the inevitable "Oh dear, oh dear! What have they done now?” - this is the daily litany for those domain name professionals involved in the New gTLD programme. Confusion is rife, conspiracy theories are rife, unbridled anger is rife; in fact the only thing that isn't rife at the moment is good news and a close date for the New gTLD submission window.

Applicants, the majority of whom have had no dealings with ICANN before, are justifiably stupefied. Over 2000 applications have been submitted or are in progress in the TLD Application System (TAS), and ICANN has already received over $350 million in application fees!

Those of us who are old hands at working with ICANN hardly batted an eyelid when the TAS went down nearly at the end of the application window. What else can you expect from an organisation which, when proudly announcing the on time release of the 'final applicant guide book' couldn't resist adding the parting shot 'subject to revision'.

On a slow train journey with intermittent cell phone coverage, I thought it might be amusing to estimate what kind of revenue that $350 million in a savings account might generate in interest alone.

Using a nominal 4% interest over a year, that sort of sum will generate $14,000,000 in interest alone and, if ICANN holds on to other peoples’ money for only a month before the programme starts up again ICANN will have made nearly $1.2 million in interest. That’s a tidy sum to earn from a software ‘glitch’. Perhaps that extra daily interest on the deposits are now being used to bring in software engineers who can get the show back on the road?

So what is ICANN doing about it? Well according to their latest new bulletin of Monday 7 May 2012: “In recognition of the inconvenience caused by the temporary suspension of the TLD application system, ICANN will provide a full refund of the application fees paid by any new gTLD applicant that wishes to withdraw its application prior to publication of the list of applied-for new top-level domain names.”

This, at first sight, might seem a fair resolution but what is the likelihood that an applicant will withdraw an application prior to the publication of the list of applied-for new top-level domain names? Applicants will have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in time, effort and money writing an application, registering for the TAS and posting the full application fee. Why would anyone withdraw prior to knowing who else is applying?

Yet again ICANN has managed to come up with a way of offering nothing for something - you get your money back, we’ll keep the interest. Is this the final resolution from ICANN on this? I think the wise would say “Yes… Subject to revision”.

Written by :

Andy Churley, Marketing Director, Corporate Brand Management, NetNames