From Stephane Van Gelder, Head of Group NBT's New gTLD Team and Chair of ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization:
In late December, I received a "Happy Christmas" call from ICANN's CEO Rod Beckstrom. A thoughtful gesture, but more importantly a great opportunity to ask him about the current anti-new gTLD pressure that seems to be building in the US.
Beckstrom recognized that the pressure was there, but did not seem worried about it and he reassured me that as far as ICANN is concerned, the January 12 2012 launch date is still very much set in stone.
Despite the showboating at the recent US Senate hearings, Beckstrom said he has had no secret calls coming from inside the US government to delay the program. He said that the ICANN staff are ready to launch on January 12 2012 and a strict no travel policy is being enacted for that date so that the usually very mobile staff at ICANN are on hand to deal with any contingency on the new gTLD launch date.
So all in all, Beckstrom's message was a reassuring one.
If you are still thinking about applying for a new gTLD in the first application window, it is not too late. Get in touch with the NetNames gTLD team today for advice.