The move into general availability of .NYC last week demonstrated one of the success factors of the new GTLD programme. Over 27,000 registrations took the TLD into the top 20 just 24 hours after the end of Landrush, making it the third most popular geographic new gTLD behind Berlin and London. Geographic gTLDs seem to have resonated well with registrants so far with big numbers expected from .Paris, .Sydney and .Melbourne when they open for general availability in the next few months.
Many organisations have shunned the generic names up until now, seeing little value in suffixes such as .gripe or .solutions. To date, seven of the top thirty new gTLDs are geographic suffixes, with .Berlin and .London firmly established in the top ten. What makes the performance of .NYC so impressive is that registrants need to have a valid address, within the five boroughs of New York City. The race is certainly on to find the most popular geographic TLD.
The strength of registrations in these major cities as well as the success of TLDs such as .Bayern (German for Baveria) may lead to a change in strategy for any subsequent rounds of the gTLD expansion programme.
In a carefully worded statement a few weeks ago, ICANN said “based on current estimates, a subsequent application round is not expected to launch until 2016 at the earliest". Many doubt that this milestone is actually achievable , based on the state of the current programme, especially with regards to the number of TLDs that are still in contention.
But with very strict rules governing who can and cannot apply for a geographic gTLD perhaps we may see a second round within the next two years that is just open to further cities and regions. The strict requirement that any application needs approval and backing of the relevant legislative authority adds validity to any applicant, and with traction for city and region names growing by the day, the demand is clear to see to make any application financially viable.
Major cities such as Rome (who withdrew their application for .Roma in the first round) and Manchester will be monitoring the situation carefully, looking as to what benefits they could gain from applying when the window opens up again. For now though the race is on to see which city will prevail in being the most attractive internet property.
Written by Stuart Fuller, Director of Commercial Operations and Communications, NetNames.