I predict new TLD marketing will start after ICANN’s Singapore meeting this month.
Just about everyone — including me — is horrible at predicting what ICANN will do and when it will do it regarding new top level domain names. The only people who’ve been right are those that said “it’s not going to happen at this meeting”.
That said, I’m going to take another crack at it. Here’s what I predict for this month’s ICANN meeting in Singapore:
ICANN will not have resolved all its differences with GAC. That means it won’t approve a final guidebook.
Instead, as it has hinted, it will approve “the new gTLD program” and consider the applicant guidebook a work in progress.
This half-ass, middle ground “hedge” will allow ICANN to throw the party Peter Dengate Thrush so desperately wants to have in Singapore for new TLDs. But the mood will be somewhat somber. After all, the party celebrates a finish line that wasn’t crossed.
But the big win here will be that this will give ICANN a rationale to start the communications period for new top level domain names. This communications period (really a marketing campaign) is supposed to run for four months prior to new top level domain name applications being accepted.
New TLD proponents have asked if it could run concurrently with guidebook negotiations. In the past they’ve been shot down. But since it’s clear the guidebook will not be a “finished product” perhaps until the first application is accepted, ICANN will now decide it’s OK to start the marketing.
In fact, the May 30 draft of the communications plans states that it won’t start until there is “board approval of the new gTLD program”. (Elsewhere in the document it says it won’t start until the guidebook is approved, but let’s not split hairs.)
So the board will generally approve the program (whatever that means) in Singapore this month and kick of the marketing.
But like last time, I’m not wagering money on any of this.