Some of these TLDs can’t string along much longer.
Hundreds of new top level domain names are now available. Some are doing reasonably well while others are not (to put it mildly).
Will 2015 see the first new TLD “failures”, in which a top level domain operator calls it quits? We might have seen it already.
The companies I’m most concerned about are the ones that operate just one or two TLDs and have a big staff (i.e., lots of overhead). If they aren’t getting traction after about a year, I don’t think they have long to go.
ICANN tried to bake in a backup plan for failed registries by requiring them to have a credit line in the event of failure. I think that’s a funny notion; if a TLD fails, who would really back its credit line?
The most likely scenario for failed TLDs is that they’ll be gobbled up by another registry or a backend technical registry.
Failing any interest in these auctions, the backend registry providers will likely take over the day-to-day operation of failed TLDs.
Some TLDs have needlessly hobbled themselves with onerous registration restrictions. This limits interest by other parties, and ICANN might need to consider a way to relax these restrictions in the event of a TLD passing to another entity in light of a shutdown.
I’m not excited about the prospect of failed TLDs. But reality will catch up to a number of operators soon. Just look at the bottom of this list.