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How Many TLD Applications Will ICANN Receive?

June 11th, 2008

Note: If you are reading this in an RSS reader, it might not format very well. Best viewed on the blog site.

This post could be subtitled: “The Wisdom of Elites.” I polled some people I know in the domain field (plus Andrew Goodman, who wondered what the hell I was going on about). I asked them a simple question:

“For the record, how many new TLD applications do you think there’ll be?”

Only two people shot back the very funny “42.”

Most of these people know the domain name world very well, but from different perspectives. Journalists, registrars, intellectual property attorneys, domainers, registry operators, TLD aspirants, entrepreneurs, domain aftermarket auctioneers, civil society activists. And only one woman — a reflection of the state of the domain industry, and that the clever ones avoid me…

Most answers coagulate around 100 - 150, but they are counterbalanced by very pessimistic estimates on the one hand, and mega-prophecies on the only. Many refused to name a number. The “crystal ball is cloudy,” as David Maher says.

The comments are great; they are at least as valuable as the estimateswild-ass guesses about the number of applications. Did Bill Mushkin really say that? (Yes.)

We can all expect to remain baffled about what the price will be for a while, since ICANN has said that price will depend on the number of applications. But, as my refused-to-be-named source says, the number of applications will correlate strongly to price. And so the push-me-pull-you chases its own head.

Here then are the results, in no particular order:

NAME APPS COMMENTS
Milton Mueller   37  Are you counting the “fast-track” IDN ccTLDs? If so, we are looking at no less than 200. If not, my “wisdom” tells me somewhere around 37
Bret Fausett   165  A single number or a range? I’ll go 165 and/or 150-200.
Tim Schumacher   20  I have no idea, honestly. 20.
Elliot Noss   150  42. kidding. 150
James Woods   100  I’d be willing to bet about 100+ but I only know of about 10 so it’s a stretch for sure
Frank Michlick   n/a  42
Elliot Silver   12  LOL… I will say 12.
David Maher   n/a  My crystal ball is cloudy, but my best guess is that there will be lots. Of course, the cost of applying will have some effect, but it seems likely to me that the major trademark and brand owners will want to establish a presence.
Michele Neylon   20  I suspect that there are a huge number of organisations that would like to get their own TLD eg. .sco et al, but I think only a very small number of them have any idea of the costs, bureaucracy and timescales involved. If I was to give a ballpark figure I suppose I’d have to go for something like 20, but realistically I’d expect over 50% of those to drop out fairly quickly
Andrew Goodman   n/a  Antony, can I trouble you for a couple of links to relevant background?
Ron Jackson   Zen  Ron: I really haven’t given it any thought personally. It will be what it will be.
Antony: Ok I’ll put you down for “zen” then.
Ron: LOL
Michael Mann   n/a  My comment is that .com will always be king other than net and org for select purposes and brand protection. Also select uses of select ccTLDs. Otherwise I don’t find value in the rest of the TLD space although I may not be totally current on all the opportunities. I think it would be foolish to build any potentially perpetual brand without owning the exact .com match for the brand/business name. In fact a chapter in my book addresses this specifically…
Michael Ward   n/a  purely for illustrative purposes, if I were .INFO, would I want to think of protecting my registry and not dilute my brand (ok .INFO has a horrible brand, but work with me here), should I consider registering .DATA or .FACT. These are not confusing similar to .INFO so would pass that test, but if somebody else came along with .DATA, what would that do for .INFO?
Bill Mushkin   325  Bill: 325… that is based on a $50-70k application fee.
Antony: No caveats! Commit!
Bill: I’ll commit, I’m committable, but that said I’m probably high.
David R. Johnson   150  I have no idea. But since the “wisdom of crowds” requires the presence of random errors in all directions, I’ll pick a number for you: 150
Ken Taylor   50  I say 50.
Dirk Krischenowski   35  from the perspective of so-called GeoTLDs I expect to have around 10 initiatives or less going to apply. Many of the initiatives have made good progress but many do not have the funds to proceed through application process. I expect to have some 10-20 gTLDs like .web or .shop and then a hand full of specialized TLDs like .bank.
Ali Farshchian   500  I think the number of new TLD applications will be high enough to the point where ICANN is apparently not expecting that it can depend on staff alone to sort through them. I don’t know… 500+ maybe (and if this seems humanly manageable, I’d go higher)
Wendy Seltzer   n/a  I still don’t know enough about what the procedural hurdles will look like to have a prediction. Waiting for more info!
Richard Tindal   300  Assuming the one time application fee is around $200K, and the annual ICANN fee is $25K to $50K, I think there’ll be 200 to 400 applications, so let’s say 300
Danny Younger   150  Tough question to answer in view of the many possible IDN applications that may be tendered… but if this were a contest, i’d pick 150 during the first round.
Tommy Ho   100  It’s a shot in the dark, but I’ll say 100 new applications.
Pinky Brand   9-22  If you are going to pin me down I’ll make two predictions. The first is my “irrational exuberance” opinion. It says there will be 22 applications. The logic goes that there are plenty of nutty people out there in the current market thinking they too can make millions running a domain registry. If it ends up more than that then holy Alan Greenspan we’ve got to contain this thing! My fallback position says there will be only 9 new TLD applications. I base it on nothing more than a hunch that the nutty people come to their senses. Unlikely.
Keith Teare   50-100  My guess is more than 50. Perhaps more than 100.
Refused-to-be-Named Registry Person   50-200  Number of applications will directly correlate to the application fee. Lower cost (around $50k), could be over 200. Higher cost (over $250k), lucky if they get 50 applications. These are not unique TLDs, my guess is that there will be multiple applications for generics. I am guessing that there will be many specific use applications from companies, associations etc. It will be very interesting. See you in Paris.

Thanks to everyone who agreed to be martyred for this post. Want to throw your hat in the ring? Comment away…

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9 Comments

  1. Late breaking addition from Jeff Williams of the INEG Group: 50,000,000 new applications!

    Antony | June 11th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

  2. I guess we should really state over which time period we’re talking. I think actually 42 may not be that far off after all.

    Many people will talk about applying and only a fraction will end up doing it.

    Frank Michlick | June 11th, 2008 at 1:36 pm

  3. Tom Barrett from Encirca writes: “I think ICANN’s application fee for the new tlds is going to be a lot higher than many people can afford, which will lower the overall number. I predict there will be 39 applications submitted.”

    Antony | June 11th, 2008 at 5:50 pm

  4. Antony-

    Thanks for reaching out to me on the original request.

    I’ve blogged on this a bit but I have been reviewing potential applicants’ concepts and applications on a pro-bono basis and I’ve physically seen 69 applications representing 28 distinct strings. Lots of duplications out there.

    Anyways, I doubt I am the alpha and omega of the process so I’d imagine I may have seen 5-15% of the overall applications.

    I think the number of applications, as Richard Tindal wisely indicated, will be inversely related to the amount of the fee.

    Street level estimation is 175k to 200k per application. At that I’d take WAG at around 150-200 applications. If the price is 1/10 that estimate (17.5k to 20k fee), multiply the application quantity by 10.

    These are all WAG.

    -Jothan

    (this comment is made personally and does not reflect the opinion of my employer)

    Jothan Frakes | June 11th, 2008 at 6:44 pm

  5. Esther Dyson writes: “sorry, I don’t have a clue! but it’s nice to hear from you anyway!”

    Carsten Schiefner writes: “I think it’ll be around 50.”

    Antony | June 12th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

  6. Greetings from Paris, hope to see you all here next days.

    If I remember, 42 was an answer in 2000 (or was it less known magic number 44?).

    Today we have 21 gTLDs in the root, .ARPA included, IDN-test’s excluded.

    I think it will be less than 50.

    Elisabeth Porteneuve | June 17th, 2008 at 2:39 am

  7. [...] timeline prevista per il lancio e sugli eventuali punti interrogativi, e conducendo un piccolo toto-TLD fra amici e colleghi chiedendo in giro quante richieste riceverá ICANN per nuovi [...]

    Giugno a Parigi | De Dominibus | June 19th, 2008 at 3:21 pm

  8. Everytime you turn around, someone else comes up with another TLD. ICANN for the right price seems willing to issue new ones.

    Ask the average person about .mobi or .biz. Invariably, you’ll get a blank stare. Lame.

    In about a generation, some young upstart smartie will come up with a way to dispense with dot-anything, and we’ll all be royally screwed, even all you avid dot-commers.

    MsDomainer | June 24th, 2008 at 7:15 pm

  9. “In about a generation, some young upstart smartie will come up with a way to dispense with dot-anything, and we’ll all be royally screwed, even all you avid dot-commers”

    An upstart is never smarty- for how do they learn about business until they compete, win business and make a profit. It takes experience and seeing the chink in the competitor’s armor.

    And that explains why Steve Jobs will succeed where Microsoft and Napster and others failed.

    He’s already got the answer- every time you go to play a song you are using it even though you never realize you are using a windows pc and not the Internet to get there.

    Anonymous | June 27th, 2008 at 6:35 am

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