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Remembering the first new TLD round and .INFO


Ten years ago today, November 16th 2000, the ICANN Board voted to approve the first new top-level domains (new TLDs) to be added to the Internet root, ever.  Of the 47 applicants, only 44 were considered valid and paid the application fee. Ultimately seven were chosen that day, including .INFO.

If you search for the ICANN archives of the Board minutes of that day, interestingly the meeting minutes say:

Ten years ago today, November 16th 2000, the ICANN Board voted to approve the first new top-level domains (new TLDs) to be added to the Internet root, ever. Of the 47 applicants, only 44 were considered valid and paid the application fee. Ultimately seven were chosen that day, including .INFO.

If you search for the ICANN archives of the Board minutes of that day, interestingly the meeting minutes say:

The Board began its consideration of the applications by discussing the methodology it would use in its selection. The Report on New TLD Applications discussed the 44 complete applications in eight categories. The Board decided to go through each category and discuss promising candidates for selection. In the process, the sentiment of the Board would be used to place proposals into a conceptual "basket". As the process proceeded, the contents of the basket would be reviewed to evaluate the degree of diversity and the proposals' overall appropriateness for a proof of concept. The Board could then make adjustments by adding or removing proposals from the basket.

Those who were present at the public Board meeting remember the seemingly endless hours of debate on the merits of each string, what it would mean for the Internet, how Internet users would use it, and how likely it was that it would be a "success" (whatever that meant).

We have come a long way from creating conceptual baskets of possibly good TLD strings to consider for addition to the Root. ICANN's newest new TLD round has set out to establish high and objective expectations for the string itself, the technical registry system powering the proposed TLD, and the supporting business plan. And while some of the applications back in 2000 may not have passed the current tests, some of them produced business models and domains that have changed the entire landscape of the domain name industry. Indeed, the lessons from those launches have been the foundation for competitive advantage in subsequent rounds, and the basis for success of many of the TLD introductions that have followed.

Of all of the seven chosen in 2000, .INFO has clearly been the most successful. With nearly 7 million domains, .INFO represents approximately 44% of the entire new TLD registration market and is more than double the size of any other new TLD in the market today.

Despite the recent global economic issues, .INFO continues to fare well behind a careful designed program that reflects the experience from 10 years of new TLD management. Leveraging this experience, .INFO's growth continues to outpace the market. As of September 2010, analysis shows that the global domain market is up 7%, while .INFO has grown 31% over its 2009 base of domains under management[1].

While everyone is eager for a new TLD round to start, it is important to take a lesson from history in how to launch a new TLD brand and build its momentum over time. The .INFO experience is one illustration of how to create success, especially by leveraging the strengths of an effective and globally diverse registrar distribution channel. Our more than 360 accredited registrars have always believed in .INFO and so have the millions of registrants and site owners that choose .INFO over other TLDs to communicate their INFOrmation with the world.

 



[1] Afilias analysis based on Zooknic.com data through September 2010.