Brands that were expecting International Domain Name (IDN) gTLDs to launch first, giving brands some extra time to make decisions about their Internet strategies, should sit up and take notice: it looks like English-language gTLDs may be the first to hit the Internet later this year.
Every new gTLD application began its evaluation process in the order determined by its priority draw number. 天主教, which is .CATHOLIC in Chinese characters, for example, drew the #1 slot in the priority queue. All of the applied-for IDN gTLDs – extensions that are written in non-ASCII characters or non-Roman characters – were put at the front of the line to expedite the global accessibility of online content. But with English-character gTLD applications moving at a faster-than-expected pace, it is becoming clear that ICANN could allow them to leap frog ahead of IDNs if they are ready to launch.
Applicants Donuts and Uniregistry have already signed contracts with ICANN for these twelve extensions: .BIKE, .CAMERA, .CLOTHING, .EQUIPMENT, .ESTATE; .GURU, .HOLDINGS, .LIGHTING, .SINGLES, . TATTOO, .VENTURES; and .VOYAGE.
Since ICANN has been able to move forward quickly with these applicants, Donuts and Uniregistry are likely to launch a number of the first gTLDs in the coming months. I-Registry, which signed its contract for .ONL last week, announced that it will launch its Sunrise period on November 30.
This is a big deal for companies. English gTLDs will have a greater global impact and uptake than the more regional IDN gTLDs will have. So, with English-language gTLDs among the first to launch and among the first to make it into advertisements later this year, companies will have to launch their own updated digital strategies sooner than many had planned. If you haven’t already started thinking about how to position your brand in the new online space, start now.