The guidebook itself won’t be done — but ICANN will approve something in June.
I’ve gone through the latest version of the new top level domain name applicant guidebook and read ICANN’s explanation of what it is.
I’d call it version 0.7 (beta).
And I’d argue that there will be no approval of the guidebook at June’s ICANN meeting in Singapore. Instead, ICANN hopes to loosely “approve the new gTLD program”.
It’s right there in ICANN’s introduction to the latest guidebook.
The Applicant Guidebook is intended to be a comprehensive guide and will be regularly updated as aspects of the process are implemented. The Board will listen to community dialogue at the ICANN public meeting in Singapore, and will continue to solicit comments on specific areas.
Well, you can’t “approve” something in its final state if you will solicit comments after you plan to vote on the approval.
The introduction then states:
The Board of Directors will consider approval of the New gTLD Program at an extraordinary meeting on Monday, 20 June 2011, during ICANN’s international meeting in Singapore.
For years the ICANN community has been equating the official approval of the program to be the approval of the guidebook.
But that need not be the case. Instead, expect ICANN to consider “approval of the new gTLD program” at the June 20 meeting. The guidebook will be open ended. There’s no way all outstanding issues will be settled by then, and ICANN is admitting this with its latest language.
That said, it’s possible that the communications period will launch after the Singapore meeting. That would be a big win for new TLD applicants as the marketing activities can run concurrent to finalizing application terms.
Still, I don’t think ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush’s planned party to celebrate approval will be as exciting with this looming over applicants’ heads.