Depending on your domain investments and business affiliations, there are a number of ways one can define “success” for the new gTLDs. I thought I’d share what I think are the various ways the new domain names could be considered a “success” and who would be happy with that success.
If I missed any scenarios here, you are welcome to share them, and as always, you are invited to offer your own feedback on this. At the moment I have no idea which scenarios are most or least likely, but I will continue to follow along from the sidelines.
Success scenarios for new gTLDs:
New TLD registry is in the black after the first year – There is a good chance that some new gTLD extensions will be very popular. Those are probably the most contended registries (and will be the most expensive to win), but there may be some big hits from uncontended new TLDs. This would be considered a success by the registry operators and ICANN. This may be a success for domain investors depending on the aftermarket.
New TLD is a flop with consumers, registry profitably acquired in X years – Let’s say that a new gTLD registry sells thousands of domain names but isn’t running a profitable business. The registry operator may choose to sell out to a larger company at a profit. This could happen because domain names have a long renewal tail and some companies would want the revenue and stream. A profitable exit would be considered a success for the registry operators and perhaps registrants, depending on price structure.
Healthy aftermarket forms for new gTLD – The registry sold thousands of domain names, and businesses and individuals want to buy various keywords that were previously purchased. Sedo, Afternic, Aftermarket.com, NameJet and other marketplaces see a demand for the gTLD. Domain investors would consider this a success, as would registry operators.
Google / Bing / Yahoo treat new gTLD like .com – One of the keys to a new gTLD extension’s success will be how Google and other search engines treat websites on those domain names. If they are treated like any other non-ccTLD extension, this will be good for those who build websites on them. This would be considered a success for registry operators, developers, and possibly domain investors who have more saleable assets.
Startup using new gTLD gets massive funding or exit – If an end user gets massive funding while using one of the new gTLDs, that would certainly be considered a success for the end user and it would likely be considered a success for the registry and ICANN. Positive publicity will help registries drive new registrations (see .IO for example) and it will help prove the value in the new TLDs.
New gTLD program is a massive flop with little adoption – Perhaps all of these new domain names and extensions will confuse consumers and businesses. Do I go to Boston.Lawyer or is it Lawyer.Boston? This could lead to very few registrations and lost revenue. The “naysayers” who have been posting on forums, blogs, and elsewhere might consider their efforts a success since they would have proven that there wasn’t a need or desire for the new TLDs.