The Bid For Dubai's Cyber-Rights
Such a suffix will create a powerful domain root that will corner some 180 services underneath it, like go.dubai, hotel.dubai, job.dubai, cars.dubai or fly.dubai. Who would be the next global cyber-branding leader of this new millennium? Are auctions the right method to sell such mega-marketing channels? ICANN the Internet Authority is looking into auctioning off such popular name identities. A billion dollars going once? Billion dollars going twice...sold to the person from Russia with the diamond-studded cell phone.
The new auction policy raises some serious questions. If the city of London had the www.London.London domain, it could offer thousands of sub brands to its hundreds of local services, from the main root like taxi.london, shows.london or jobs.London. This highly focused, very profitable and globally accessible marketing tool will create hundreds of new leader brands. Some 630 services may successfully operate under this new London suffix.
But if the London suffix is offered on the auction block, there will certainly be mega funds on the table--as bidders fight all the way until the 15th knockout round and a winner is declared, while being televised via you.bid. If this were the case, there is no way that the city of London would let this golden opportunity slip to any other outside interests, and will find the big bucks at any cost.
Ideally, the city of London should be the rightful owner of its own domain, and not simply because it is the highest bidder. Based on rules of the rightful ownership of a domain must be traced back to its originating party, meaning that London belongs to the city of London and Dubai belongs to Dubai.
Soon, other languages will be added on the Internet, and will add billions of users with hundreds of millions of new customers online. Wales just allocated $50,000 to lobby and study the subject, so they can stay ahead of the game and make sure their Welsh name .cym--meaning "ruler"--is not picked up by some other party through the popular usage of CYM, the Internet abbreviation for "Check your mail."
However, auctions will not work for thousands of other cities at all, especially when city names are shared across the continent, or the same names have already been used in hundreds of brand names all over the world since the last century. Apart from who has the first original use, most city halls would not have the mega-bucks necessary to buy their ownership, which should rightfully belong to them in the first place. There are tens of thousands of community-based programs and associations. These non-profits often use a local or regional brand name, with almost no global trademark cover, and often end up being named with a strange combination of initials. Groups that fall into this category will have no chance to play this high-caliber, cyber-branding game.
Outside the bidding on city names, there are dozens of other combinations within the business sector, where some huge and unique applications of this method would create powerful new global cyber-brand names overnight.
Currently, there are a million-plus business-name identities of great potential interest in this race. These businesses are huge, but their names--with very few exceptions--still do not have the necessary global cover and protection to be considered automatic winners, and they may lose out in big-time global contests. The new selection, when applied under IP rules, will have to rule in favor of all existing, globally recognized trademarked brands as the rightful owners of their own suffix. For example: .IBM,.Sony or .PlayStation, but .apple and .orange may lose their ground during the process.
Somehow, name-brand identities are moving toward a serious crisis-- and to begin, there small number of names with a Five Star Standard of Naming Status, and this sudden change will only point to a rude awakening. The real complexities of accidental and casual naming are appearing fast on all fronts. Very soon, each and every company will have to face the music on globally indexed charting, and being a top leader within any single region will not be sufficient to win this game. Names are for marketing--and marketing today is global, and therefore, names must be globally structured. Long gone are the days when poorly crafted local names were pushed to their limits, with excessive advertising to appear global for a while.
According to the new formal study on this subject by ABC Namebank of the 500 million business names worldwide, only some 100,000 names are well known in their local markets, and only 1000 are globally recognized. During the last century, most corporations felt very confident--they smudged investing unlimited budgets to create distinct logos, and felt that their non-exclusive name with some distinct logo provided then that unique trademark protection. This is how thousands of identical name brands like National, Dynamic, and Quantum came about. This shortsighted naming will be fully tested. Names like Sony, Microsoft, Panasonic or Rolex never had to worry, as they already have Five Star Standard Status.
ICANN suggestions of auctions creating the billion-dollar domain babies is very problematic, as in each country there are always some gizzillionaires who want to cherry pick the top brand-name identities. A moderate fee-based system under the common laws of intellectual property is the best way forward.
The move to open domain suffixes is very mature and positive, and so is the opening into other languages. Both moves are intended to bring a billion more Internet users and hundreds of millions of new customers online, but the old-fashioned name identities will no longer have a place in this new global arena.
As the auction issue heats up, and many sudden changes shake the foundation of the oldest and the biggest name brands around the world, those who are aggressively engaged in getting the deeper understanding and evaluation their current name identities will have some chance. The rest are really headed to be drowned in the biggest domain flood of the century. Best learn to swim like a shark.