Comments about Auction Case Paper & gTLDs
Having debated the gTLD issue off/on since the days of the IAHC, I have read the consultation paper with great interest. I then read many of the responses provided by the Internet Community, some equally as interesting as the Case paper.
Clearly, there is no clear right/wrong answer. We wouldn't have spent over a decade debating this. I gather that we'd probably spend many further decades debating the same points over and over again, unless, at some point, some decision is taken to go ahead with one technique and see how it works.
I find one sentence particularly interesting in the Economic Case, that is:"ICANN intends to use auctions in the new gTLD process as a tie-breaking mechanism, not the primary allocation mechanism, for the resolution of string contention among competing new gTLD applicants for identical or similar strings."
A "tie-breaking mechanism" - indeed, many responses did not seem to take this into account. Many small communities applying for a gTLD will *never* have to go through the auction process & its higher costs, simply because there will be no tie breaker.
As for the big tie breakers, let's be frank, are these not the really popular gTLDs that will fuel speculation by operators that are dreaming to get onto the gravy train whilst it's still time to do so? Isn't it fairer that if they speculate, they should be treated like for like, and battle it out between themselves? ie. bid against each other.
If there is one criticism that I can make about the Case Study, it's that it comes up with an example of an operator giving up on 1st choice to move on to 2nd choice for gTLD, and perhaps 3rd choice. This fails to understand the business model of many of the applicants who will first have a wave of pre-registration and/or pre-marketing of the gTLD prior to allocation & launch. Indeed, some gTLD applicants have already spent a considerable amount of time & money to promote their agenda. Have they gone too far? Are they opening themselves for a massive disappointment and worse still, a disappointment for their community and/or client base? This is starting to sound more and more like an election or a contest, isn't it?
Whilst it would really be the responsibility of the applicant to consider its application & promotional investments, I fear that many in the field may be betting way too high for their own health. Remember: you can't sell what you don't (yet?) have.
I reject the comments of an "Internet for the Rich" caused by gTLD auctions. gTLDs are not *vital* to the operation of the Internet. gTLDs are a purely psychological resource bordering on vain. Communities are perfectly able to function on the Internet without their own gTLD. So are brands & indeed any other kind of applicant.
It's a matter of "I want", not "I need".I suspect a lot of this huffing and puffing is pure show-off from people to get their own way.
Indeed, once this "scarce" resource becomes less scarce through the creation of hundreds of gTLDs, will we all spend so much time debating it? My point is, the cake is only so big and once we slice it into so many slices, will those dreaming of having a slice of the cake not end up with crumbs, crumbs that will fall well short of feeding them?
IMHO, it is wishful thinking to believe that the cake will grow. In reality, your average internet user does not care. What he/she wants is something cheap, perhaps free, easy to remember and easy to administer. Remember, there is very little real added value in running a gTLD. It's all perceived value. What are an applicant's key success factors that will differentiate them from the competition?
Caveat Emptor. O. -- Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond, Ph.D. E-mail:<ocl@xxxxxxx> | http://www.gih.com/ocl.html