Sometimes Innovation Precedes the Need: A Take on the New gTLDs


As many of you know, Brad White the Director of Global Media Affairs for ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) flew out last week to help spread awareness around the new gTLD program. Here’s a quick background in case you’re not familiar with the new program: gTLD stands for generic top-level domain such as com, net, org (to the right of the dot). The new program will allow anyone to apply to own and operate their own extension (more info here.) I’ll try to be casual here but this is undoubtedly the largest change to the Internet since its inception’85! If you don’t know, now you knowww (Biggie reference there, anyone?) Anyway, introducing new gTLDs to the Internet landscape has been a hot topic with much controversy and debate as many have asked, “Why are you doing this? What is the need?”

When faced with this question last week Mr. White responded, “Sometimes innovation precedes the need.” This turned the conversation to Twitter, iPads and iPhones. Did you know you needed any of those before they existed?

I’ll be the first to admit that change can be scary. You can greet it by kicking and screaming or you can embrace it, the choice is yours. I’m not arguing that every big brand out there should necessarily embrace new gTLDs, but what I am wondering is what happened to the dreamers? The go-getters who are totally bent and psyched on creating a completely new experience for customers that’s never been seen or experienced before. Where’s the excitement?

A great article by Adrian Kinderis hit my inbox this morning that strikes the same chord, “Remember, all great differentiators are unproven before they are accepted as the norm. Even American industrialist Henry Ford understood this valuable lesson: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Let me be clear, new gTLDs are not for everyone. The application fee alone is $185k, maintenance and renewal fees run around minimum $25k yearly, it’s an extremely technical endeavor and a lot of capital and knowhow are needed up front. Even Name.com, a company that could potentially benefit from new gTLDs, has had its own internal debate about implementing such a massive change. My only question is of what are we so scared? Why isn’t there more enthusiasm around opening up and unleashing the Internet? It is a wide-open playing field where the opportunity to be an innovator could not be any more clearly presented.

So will you ask for more horses? Or take on the challenge and start dreaming?




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