Guten Tag from Switzerland

Josh Bourne ⬥ 5 March

Last time I was in Switzerland was in October, and now business brings me back to the country right in time for Basel’s Fasnacht carnival. The carnival, which starts on the Monday after Ash Wednesday (at 4:00am!) and lasts for three days, is quite a sight:

Guten Tag

Participants wear masks and costumes, parade through the streets of the city, play music and throw confetti. They also satirize events and people from the past year in pamphlets that are handed out and in pictures on lanterns that are displayed throughout the carnival.

It’s not all fun and games here in Switzerland; I’ve had some serious conversations about the potential new TLD launch, and people are surprised by ICANN’s neglect to address substantive issues such as trademark protection, security and stability, and malicious conduct in the second draft of the Applicant Guidebook. They’re also disappointed that ICANN has not substantiated the need and consumer demand for this launch and feel as though ICANN is moving forward with something that is of little value to the Internet community and may actually prove to be harmful.

Still, businesses are forced to consider what they will do if the launch does move forward. I have found that some people are dismissive of the idea of registering new TLDs, while others are taking a “wait and see approach” to the issue; if they see brands registering TLDs and consumers searching by extension, they’ll get on board. At the moment, though, most see little value to and expect minimal benefit from registering a new TLD. They also realize that new TLD pitches coming with promises of a “killer app,” such as a panacea for phishing, will likely under deliver.

Some international companies in Europe predict there will be fewer generic and brand TLDs in the first round of applications than was originally anticipated. That sounds reasonable—after all, who has the money to run registries in this economic environment? If brands don’t do anything too aggressive, then maybe future entrants will be less enthusiastic and abandon or ice their plans to launch a TLD. Such a slow-down of the launch would be beneficial, since at least it would allow the chance for the domain name space to adapt to problems that will undoubtedly arise. 

Tags: Applicant Guidebook, Ash Wednesday, Basel, brands, economic environment, Europe, Fasnacht carnival, ICANN, internet community, killer app, Switzerland, TLDs, trademark protection

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