Even in their wildest dreams, ICM Registry, the organization appointed by ICANN to run the application process for .xxx could not have believed what a success it would be. And by success we mean the number of applicants during the Sunrise phase willing to pay a minimum of $162 to protect their brand or trademark.
When the window for the first phase closed on Monday 31 October 2011, there had been nearly 80,000 applications for .xxx domain names, netting ICM almost $13 million. ICM’s initial prediction during this phase was just 10,000 applications. On top of this ICM will receive revenues that result from the auction of domain names where there were multiple authentic applications.
Despite all of the controversy and protests from various parts of society it seems that this will be one of the biggest and most successful domain name launches. The domain suffix was first proposed over 10 years ago by ICM, and actually received preliminary approval from ICANN in 2005. However, years of internal wrangling ensured it was kept off the market until a final ICANN vote in March 2011 saw its approval.
Whilst Social Media has replaced pornography as the most visited category of sites on the Internet today, the industry is still worth billions of dollars per annum. Search volumes containing the word “porn” have tripled since 2004 and more lookalike sites appear on a daily basis (such as variants on Facebook and Twitter that probably need little imagination to work out). Therefore the introduction of .xxx will try to regulate the industry.
Stuart Lawley, President of ICM publically said “The adult industry has a tarnished reputation, and we are trying to press the reset button”. He wants to be the bastion of trust in the adult online industry. There are plans for .xxx to be the only top-level domain that includes free virus scanning of all of its sites, but that could be like a red rag to a bull for cyber terrorists.
The next wave of applications opens on the Tuesday 8 November 2011 when the Landrush phase starts. During this phase, any organisation without a trademark or within the adult community can apply. Based on statements released by some registrars already, this phase will push the Sunrise stage into the shadows.