Given the latest data, ICANN should consider changing how it batches new TLDs.
With 1,268 registered users for ICANN’s new top level domain application system, it’s clear there will be over 1,000 unique top level domains going through the new TLD process. That means we’ll have “batching“, where approximately 500 domains at a time go through the full evaluation and addition to the root.
The current plan for determining which 500 applications go into each batch is called digital archery. Applicants will pick a target time and then try to click a button as close to that target time as possible.
Given ICANN’s failure to run the new TLD application system effectively and securely, a lot of doubt will be cast on the accuracy of a digital archery system.
This, in combination with the expectation that ICANN is going to make a lot more money off of applications than originally forecast, is renewing calls for coming up with a different solution. Here’s what Jeff Neuman, Vice President, Business Affairs at Neustar, Inc. tweeted yesterday:
I wouldn’t be surprised to have an applicant who misses the first batch sue ICANN over its digital archery system. That could delay the entire process.
The problem with putting all domains into one batch isn’t necessarily the evaluation process. The problem is adding more than 500 domains to the root at a time. ICANN has said it wants to limit batch sizes to monitor new TLD effects on the root.
If I were ICANN, here’s how I’d look at it. The non-profit is looking at a windfall of $30 million if it gets 2,000 applications. And that assumes a whopping $120 million is spent on “risk” costs such as lawsuits. Why not use some of this money to “buy off” applicants? Offer a substantial refund to applicants who agree to be slotted in later batches. I suspect that at least half of new TLD applications are for .brand domains. Many of the applicants have no idea what they’ll do with their .brand or when they’ll do it. Offer them a nice refund and many will opt for later batches.
ICANN could even hold a “reverse refund auction” to figure out the market cost of being in a later batch.
This volunteer program would save ICANN from more legal risks. It would also prevent the likely scenario of a bunch of the new TLDs being “dead” when they are added to the root. (Basically, .brands added to the root that aren’t actively used yet.) This would kill two birds with one stone.