ICANN's new gTLD program has led the way to the internet's root zone for many new top-level domains. Since the delegation of the first new gTLDs in October 2013, over 900 new domain extensions have gone live.
In the near future, there will be more interesting new gTLDs that investors, portfolio and brand managers should keep an eye on or pre-register.
For this purpose, we have taken a closer look at the top 10 new gTLDs with the most pre-registrations in AutoDNS.
During our examination, not only the current status quo of the TLDs was of interest. We also took a look at who is applying or has applied for the operation of the TLDs and the decisions that have already been made in some cases.
Status quo of the newcomers in the ICANN program
- #10 .forum
There were three applicants for the new gTLD .forum: Fegistry LLC, June Hollow LLC and dot Forum Limited. In the end, Fegistry was selected by ICANN. The first details about the launch of the new gTLD .forum have already been announced.
During the Sunrise Period – from November 16 to December 16, 2020 – .forum domains can be pre-registered by trademark owners who have had their data validated centrally in the Trademark Clearinghouse.
General Availability (GA) is expected to start on March 2, 2021. From this date onwards, domains under .forum will be up for registration for everyone. It is already known that Fegistry is aiming for a modest 10,000 registrations during the first three years. A possible reason for this could be that online discussions are increasingly shifting to social media and blogs. The domain extension has already been pre-registered more than 1,000 times in AutoDNS.The launch of .forum marks the release of a valuable new domain extension. The expected low registration numbers were probably factored in the relatively high price. A 50 % discount for .forum domains is planned in the first year.
The mandatory nic.forum website recently switched from the Westerdal website to a website created by MMX.
String forum PreRegs (in %) 4 % Status delegated GA Launch 03/02/2021 Available to everybody Yes Registry Fegistry, LLC Backend Provider CentralNic / Demand Media Google Global Search (monthly) 823,000 Majestic Million Rank #380 – weforum.org Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 40
- #9 among the ICANN newcomers: .box
The new domain extension .box would make numerous uses and combinations available to registrants. How about thinkoutsidethe.box, for example?
The domain extension is not entirely unproblematic as it poses a challenge for users of the popular Fritzbox routers. If the fritz.box domain occupied by the Fritzbox is used, the browser currently does not return the IP address of the router or the desired computer but rather 127.0.53.53.
The domain extension has not yet been launched but has already changed hands twice.
In addition to NS1 Limited, Amazon EU S.à.rl had also applied. Amazon acquired the domain extension for US$ 3 million but returned the rights to .box after a complaint and left the field to NS1. As it was a private agreement, the amount of the payout had not been publicly disclosed at the time.
But the story of the application process for .box doesn't end there. Earlier this year, the rights to .box were sold to Intercap Registry Inc. , which also operates .inc and .dealer. The amount for which the new gTLD was sold the second time has not been made public. The plan now seems to be to run .box as an open gTLD. The contract has now been signed and .box has been given “delegated” status. A launch date has not been announced yet.
String box PreRegs (in %) 4 % Status delegated GA Launch unknown Available to everybody unknown Registry GoDaddy Backend Provider ARI Registry Services Google Global Search (monthly) 1,830,000 Majestic Million Rank #58 – dropbox.com Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 56
- #8 among pre-regs: .home
The domain extension .home has proven to be very popular among registries. There were 11 applicants for .home, including Top Level Domain Holdings Limited, Uniregistry Corp. and GoDaddy.com LLC. However, the .home extension will not launch.
According to ICANN, the TLD .home creates risks for the internet that are comparable to the Millennium Bug. This conclusion on the part of ICANN is based on an independent studie by Interisle Consulting.
In addition to .home, the generic terms .corp and .mail have officially been banned as top-level domains. DNS experts are certain that there would be widespread conflicts if they were to be added to the public internet: All three words are used by sysadmins and webmasters for tests and other systems on internal networks.
This ban prevents client PCs from accidentally connecting to the wrong box depending on their DNS settings or from intentionally connecting cyber criminals to cause harm. Owners of machines with names like storage.home or buildserver.corp in home or business networks can be sure that the corresponding domains cannot be registered.
Organizations that donated money to compete for the top-level domains have received a full refund of application fees from ICANN, provided they have voluntarily withdrawn their application.
String home PreRegs (in %) 6 % Status withdrawn GA Launch unknown Available to everybody unknown Registry GoDaddy Backend Provider Applicant-Run Registry Google Global Search (monthly) 4,090,000 Majestic Million Rank #860 – homestead.com Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 94
- Place #7: .deal
Both Amazon and Uniregistry had applied for the new gTLD .deal. The Amazon registry has successfully completed the application process and is currently managing the TLD.
After the .dealer domain extension was launched this year to great success, .deal is eagerly anticipated. The term not only enjoys high demand in the financial world but is also often used as an additional address for online discount stores or promotions. The launch date for .deal has not yet been announced.
String deal PreRegs (in %) 7 % Status delegated GA Launch unknown Available to everybody unknown Registry Amazon Registry Services, Inc. Backend Provider Neustar Google Global Search (monthly) 450,000 Majestic Million Rank #5,349 – therealdeal.com Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 20
- PreReg #6: .free
There were five applicants for the new gTLD .free, all of whom applied for the domain extension for different reasons.
The company Amazon EU S.à.r.l. applied for the TLD through its office in Luxembourg with the aim of using the .free domain namespace as a dedicated platform to promote innovation and enable secure online communication and interaction.
The primary goal of Google (Charleston Road Registry Inc.) when applying for .free was to provide a dedicated online space for businesses, small businesses, groups or individuals who are involved in marketing and promoting free products, services, events and other activities. The platform should serve to guarantee the efficiency and security of the entire technical registry operation of the TLD.
The Uniregistry, Corp. aimed to run .free at a flat rate with fixed renewal costs and no price increase for the first five years.
No background information is known about the application of Top Level Domain Holdings Limited.
Donuts Inc. submitted applications with US$ 100 million in capital. The investment in new gTLD applications alone was US$ 56 million. Their main goal in applying for the TLD .free was to provide internet users with an online identity and means of expression that currently do not exist. The applicant was able to convince ICANN by submitting a declaration of commitment to the public interest. The TLD now holds the status “delegated” and was awarded to Donuts. A launch date is not yet known.
String free PreRegs (in %) 9 % Status delegated GA Launch unknown Available to everybody unknown Registry Donuts (Amazon Registry Services, Inc.) Backend Provider Demand Media Google Global Search (monthly) 5,000,000 Majestic Million Rank #174 – free.fr Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 150
- #5 the PreReg front runner: .music
The Google subsidiary Charleston Road Registry Inc., Victor Cross (which belongs to Donuts), dot Music Limited, DotMusic Inc. and .music LLC voluntarily withdrew from the circle of eight applicants last year. In particular, the almost parallel withdrawal of dot Music Limited and .music LLC at the end of March 2019 indicates that there was a non-public agreement. DotMusic Limited has been assigned the status “in contracting” according to the ICANN applicant database, the other applicants have been rejected.
With the .music domain extension, labels, music portals, streaming services, online shops, stationary retailers as well as concert organizers, ticket vendors and musicians are ideally equipped for a market that is always on the move. The internet is becoming more and more important for the music industry. In Germany alone, digital sales have reached a total market share of 56.7 %.
Music fans don't have to wait much longer: The domain ending .music has already been assigned “delegated” status.
String music PreRegs (in %) 9 % Status in contracting GA Launch unknown Available to everybody unknown Registry DotMusic Backend Provider Afilias Google Global Search (monthly) 4,090,000 Majestic Million Rank #1,100 – music.apple.com Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 34
- 4th place among the new TLDs: .mobile
There were three applicants for the new gTLD .mobile: Pixie North LLC, Amazon EU S.à.r.l. and Dish DBS Corporation.
The Amazon and Dish DBS Corporation filings both received GAC early warning from GAC Chair and Representative of Australia, Heather Dryden. The GAC early warning system is seen as a strong recommendation on behalf of the national governments to the ICANN board of directors to reject a certain TLD application as it is.
The warning states that the applicant "seeks exclusive access to a common generic character string that relates to a broad sector of the market", which Dryden said could have unprecedented consequences and negative effects on competition.
In the meantime, the TLD .mobile has been assigned the status “delegated” and Dish DBS Corporation was able to win the application process. The contract has already been signed, but the launch date has not yet been published.
String mobile PreRegs (in %) 10 % Status delegated (GAC Early Warning Australia, notice only) GA Launch unknown Available to everybody unknown Registry Dish DBS Corporation Backend Provider Afilias Google Global Search (monthly) 0 Majestic Million Rank #455 – mobile.twitter.com Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 34
- #3 on the podium: .med
The medical sector is one of the strongest economic drivers. The need for health services is increasing steadily. For this reason, the medical sector has been designated to receive its own domain extension, providing a platform to place products, services and target group-specific websites under .med domains.
In addition to Medistry LLC, which won the bid for .med, DocCheck AG as well as Google (Charleston Road Registry Inc.) and HEXAP SAS had applied with a Community Priority Application.
Domains under .med are reserved exclusively for medical professionals such as practitioners, research laboratories, health centers and universities.
In order to be able to register .med domains, applicants must confirm that they are working in a healthcare profession licensed in their respective country.
String med PreRegs (in %) 13 % Status delegated GA Launch unknown Available to everybody restricted Registry DocCheck AG (owner is Medistry, LLC) Backend Provider Registry.net Google Global Search (monthly) 246,000 Majestic Million Rank #52 – macromedia.com Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 208
- #2 of the newcomers: .hotel
Even before its launch, the new gTLD .hotel proved its popularity, not only among the registrants but also among registries. There had been seven applications for .hotel, including from Donuts Inc. (Spring McCook, LLC).
The only community application comes from Hotel Top-Level-Domain S.à.r.l. Dirk Krischenowski, Johannes Lenz-Hawliczek and Katrin Ohlmer hold 49 % of the company Hotel Top-Level-Domain GmbH Domain S.à.r.l. , the applicant Afilias holds the remaining shares.
The community application plan provides that only hotels, hotel chains, hotel associations and hotel marketing organizations are allowed to register domains. Various international hotel industry associations supported the application. That was obviously persuasive: In the decision of the Community Priority Evaluation in 2014, the application received 15 out of 16 possible points, 14 would have been sufficient.
Although the domain extension .hotel actually has been assigned the “delegated” status, ICANN provided it with the addition “on-hold”. A .hotel domain is estimated to cost € 60 per year.
String hotel PreRegs (in %) 17 % Status delegated (on-hold) GA Launch unknown Available to everybody restricted (Hotels, hotel chains, hotel associations, hotel marketing organisations) Registry Fegistry, LLC (Donuts) Backend Provider CentralNic Google Global Search (monthly) 37,200,000 Majestic Million Rank #1.328 – radissonhotels.com Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 34
- #1 goes to: .web
The absolute front runner is the new gTLD .web with 10,326 pre-registrations. But .web is not only at the top of the list here. With 135 million US dollars, .web attained the highest amount that has been paid in an ICANN auction for the right to operate a TLD so far. Nu Dot Co LLC won the bid. There were a total of seven applicants for the new gTLD, including Afilias Domains No. 3 Limited, Charleston Road Registry Inc. (Google) and Ruby Glen, LLC (Donuts).
Afilias Domains No. 3 Limited initiated arbitration proceedings against ICANN in 2018 because ICANN allegedly violated its own statutes when awarding .web to the registry Nu Dot Co LLC. The accusation was that Nu Dot Co had a secret financially strong partner with the .com registry VeriSign Inc., who made the high auction bid possible. This is to ensure that no other applicant can operate the very interesting and thus lucrative new gTLD .web in order to compete with .com. From Afilias' point of view, Nu Dot Co should have been excluded from the process which would have invalidated the auction.
The new gTLD currently has the status “contracting” and an Independent Review Process ((IRP for short) is already pending.
String web PreRegs (in %) 21 % Status in contracting GA Launch unknown Available to everybody unknown Registry Nu Dot Co LLC Backend Provider unbekannt Google Global Search (monthly) 9,140,0000 Majestic Million Rank #101 – web.archive.org Keyword Matches Majestic Million Rank 348
Some of the new gTLDs mentioned will probably not be launched anytime soon. Others, like .forum, will soon be available for registration by everyone.
|#||TLD||AutoDNS PreRegs (in %)||Majestic Million Rank (Keyword)||Keyword Matches in Majestic Million|
|#10||.forum||4 %||#380 – weforum.org||2,637|
|#09||.box||4 %||#58 – dropbox.com||1,836|
|#08||.home||6 %||#816 – homestead.com||94|
|#07||.deal||7 %||#5,349 – therealdeal.com||20|
|#06||.music||9 %||#1,100 – music.apple.com||34|
|#05||.free||9 %||#174 – free.fr||150|
|#04||.mobile||10 %||#455 – mobile.twitter.com||34|
|#03||.med||13 %||#52 – macromedia.com||208|
|#02||.hotel||17 %||#1,328 – radissonhotels.com||34|
|#01||.web||21 %||#101 – web.archive.org||348|
We will keep you up to date and enable you to pre-register these and other new TLDs from the ICANN program in AutoDNS. Check now to see whether your domains from the top 10 pre-registration favorites are still available.
To make sure which new gTLDs fit your portfolio and which registrations are really worthwhile for your business, contact one of our partner managers and get individual advice.