Speculation About The Brand Domains
All kinds of unexpected, and perhaps unintended, events are going to happen.
Perceptions are going to be shattered and the internet will never be the same.
Many people are going to be caught unawares and highly surprised.
The game is changing.
The situation is further complicated because the roll-out of the new TLDs is expected to take several years following the launch at the end of 2013.
Many of the applicants have signalled they will play a sort of waiting game while they will launch a few sites for internal testing, or re-direct content to their existing .com and country code domains they will also be closely monitoring the other brand domains and their strategic moves. They will be watching the media. They will be watching consumer reaction.
It could become a situation like the Greenland icesheet, a huge mass waiting and waiting, with nobody sure when it will break free and drift into the ocean.
The only certainty is change. The potential for disruptive and game-changing new websites is immense. The brand domain companies have the skill and vision to deliver them. And consumers have the insatiable and inquisitive desire to visit them.
Clinique. Application for the .clinique extension.
The brand domain applicants will strive to invent new ways to publish content and differentiate themselves in the unprecedented new domain space.
Oracle. Application for the .oracle extension.
More Relevance, Less Irrelevance
The brand domains will solve a ubiquitous online problem the shortage of domain names.
Dot brand owners will be able to register in minutes the perfect domain for just about every product, service, aspiration, offer or promotion.
Consumers will quickly understand and appreciate the value of this concise relevance.
Prudential. Application for the .prudential extension.
The brand domain websites will have carefully and precisely targeted content. Visitors will come to appreciate that there are no irrelevant, time-wasting websites in this new premium namespace. There will be no sites full of junk content and mountains of ads.
Prudential. Application for the .prudential extension.
How search engines will rank more than 1,000 new domain extensions is anyone's guess. However, a search engine's survival depends on delivering consistently good results to visitors. The brand domains, given that they will be official sites of many of the world's largest corporations, will therefore have to carry substantial weight.
It is also anyone's guess about which of the new generic TLDs will take off and which will languish. But in the long term, it is inevitable that some of the best cloud computing sites will operate on a .cloud domain and some top gaming sites will run on a .game name.
So data.cloud and Online.game for example share a destiny to be highly visited and popular sites.
So it seems inevitable that generic examples like these should rank highly in searches for terms like "cloud" or "games".
This principle should strongly apply to the brand domains. A Google search for "Honda bikes" should direct visitors to a Honda site like Bikes.honda. That should theoretically rank higher than Honda.com or Motorbikes.com for that specific search term.
A search for "Epson printers" should rank Printers.epson in the coveted number one spot since it would theoretically be the world's most authoritative website for Epson printers.
Controversy And Comment
In the interests of presenting a diverse range of views, an interesting post (and follow-up) on the influential TheDomains blog generated around 100 widely differing comments and are well worth reading:
Frank Schilling is the world's number one domain investor (and described by TheBrandDomains as the "Warren Buffett of domains"). Frank is the founder of DomainNameSales and Managing Director of Uniregistry which has applied for more than 50 generic strings.
SPECIAL NOTE: Many of the comments don't distinguish between the new generic TLDs and the brand TLDs. Generic domains are described here.
Mr Schilling had previously described how major corporations built their namespaces on the .com TLD in the 90s, since it originally meant "commerce". Significantly, smaller companies copied this principle to ride in the slipstream and achieve credibility. That's how .com attained its current level of dominance, and Frank leveraged this insight to help create his fortune through dot com investment.
Today, just as Warren Buffett does, Frank gives some of his wisdom back to the industry:
Frank Schilling. Comment on TheDomains blog.
This insight can't be overemphasized.
Smaller corporations will emulate the big influential corporations by moving to the right of the dot as soon as they are able to.
Frank Schilling. Story on the same article in TheDomains blog.
COMMENT: Having studied many of the actual brand domain applications, and having seen huge corporations like General Electric say they will (conditionally) "do whatever is necessary" to comprehensively promote their brand TLDs, TheBrandDomains agrees with the above opinions.
NOTE: Frank Schilling was interviewed at a conference by Kevin Murphy from DomainIncite, a leading industry blog.
A moderate number of people avoid search engines and directly type search terms into their browser field. So someone looking to buy an accounting book might just type "AccountingBooks.com" into their browser. Or looking for a new mobile, they type "SmartPhone.com" into the browser.
This convention may extend to the brand domains, over time. A faithful Honda customer, in search of a new car, might just type "Acura.honda" directly into the browser. If you are a satisfied Epson customer and need a new printer, you might just type "Printer.epson" to see what is offered.
It seems highly likely that the big brands will launch specific sites for their key products in anticipation of this type of intuitive customer search. Internet users will quickly understand that they can find content by using logical names like Maps.google, Bank.barclays, Cosmetics.clinique, Cloud.ibm, Videos.netflix and Music.sony.
For example, Fujitsu reveals the intuitive naming conventions it intends to use, and consumers will love it:
Fujitsu. Application for the .fujitsu extension.
Interested in buying a Fujitsu printer? Easy just go to Printer.fujitsu.
The dot brands will hold a level of trust and authenticity that is missing from the dot com space and hence will be popular with the general public. The public is tired of being confused by the fraudulent and criminal websites that are so common on the open internet. They will love the guaranteed authenticity that the brand domains will bring.
The sale of Nokia's mobile phone division to Microsoft in September 2013 gave an inkling of some major implications of the brand domains that are yet to come. Microsoft has an application in place for .microsoft and Nokia for .nokia. While Nokia will undoubtedly continue under that brand and the .nokia TLD should be more or less unaffected, this may not be true in the case of other take-overs.
The Guardian. Microsoft buys Nokia handset business for €5.4bn
Sometimes brand names are de-commissioned or changed. The advent of the dot brands will add a new factor to the complex equations that form a company identity.
In the case of Microsoft/Nokia, there is no brand TLD in place for Lumia, the brand name of Nokia's smartphone. And Nokia in Finland is retaining ownership of the Nokia brand (though use will be licensed to Microsoft for 10 years).
Applications to ICANN for new domain strings of any kind are currently closed, and not generally expected to open for three years or so. Deals like the Nokia sale is likely to put powerful pressure on ICANN to open a permanent window for new brand domain applications.
Brandable Domain Values
As argued above, the first round of 680 brand applications seems sure to be successful. If that comes to pass, ICANN is certain to receive powerful pressure to open up a second round so the next thousand corporations can apply. There is a fair chance of this happening in a couple of year's time.
In turn, the brand domains will affect the value of existing brands and brandable domains with potential that may not yet even be dot com websites. For example, a short name like "Fiat" is short and easy and can easily transition to right of the dot.
On the other hand, a brand like "Lamborghini" is long and hard to spell.
Short, brandable non-dictionary word domains on the domain aftermarkets may escalate in value if they are deemed suitable for transition.
Brandables Compared To Other Categories
The brand domains are sure to have a big impact on internet communications.
A paramount feature of the brand domains will be their inherent trust and authenticity. This powerful feature will be disruptive and differentiate the elite brands from the rest of the pack.
For a very large corporation, it will be de rigueur to have its own brand domain.
Trust will also be a distinguishing feature of the many city domains that are also being delegated. (Domains like Shopping.london and Galleries.nyc). The city domains are covered on the Generics page.
There are many parallels between the brand and the city domains. After all, "London" and "Paris" and "NYC" are effectively powerful de facto brands in themselves.
Two Letter .COM Domains
Two letter dot com domains are among the most valuable domain names in the world with valuations in the millions of dollars. For example, DNJournal in one of its weekly sales reports cites the sale of IG.com for $USD 4.7m.
However, two letter extensions to the right of the dot are reserved for country abbreviations, like .us for the United States and .cn for China. Even GE (General Electric) has had to apply for .gecompany as its brand string.
The implication is, once the big corporations realise this limitation, two letter dot com domains may be slightly less sought-after.
The broader message is that all kinds of unforeseen effects are going to ripple across the ocean of the internet.
The brand domains will help cut through prevailing perceptions in the domain name system. As will be the case with many of the forthcoming generic TLDs (like .hotel and .game for example) the dot brands will add significant new meaning and generate a shift in attention to the right of the dot.
Previously, extensions like .com and .co.uk and .de had no valuable intrinsic meaning. Their original meanings have been almost forgotten. But now, real meaning is coming to all parts of the TLD itself.
Consider for comparison domain pairs like:
Hitachi refers to this change in perceptions in its application for its own brand TLD:
Hitachi. Application for the .hitachi extension.
level = left of the dot.
Brand names mentioned on this site are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective corporations. This site claims no association with or endorsement by any of these corporations and their marks are mentioned only to illustrate opinion presented in the public interest.
For a comprehensive overview of the brand domains and their impact on the web, refer to ICANN's website and the individual applications (large parts of which are publicly published).
If you have a particular interest in an individual company, the public aspects of their applications are available for download via the following ICANN links: You can also search a complete list of applicants there.
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