.info falls flat in Asia Pacific

Industry response to the imminent release of the long awaited .info top-level domain (TLD) has been lukewarm at best, with Asian companies forming only 5 percent of overall requests for new domains.

SYDNEY--Industry response to the imminent release of the long awaited .info top-level domain (TLD) has been lukewarm at best, with Asian companies--the group under which Australia falls--forming only 5 percent of overall requests for new domains.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) charged Dublin-based Afilias with registering the new .info TLDs in September 2000.

A consortium of 18 domain name registrars from around the world, Afilias began accepting registrations on September 12, and soon extended the proposed deadline from September 18 to September 21 in the wake of the WTC tragedy.

With the results of the first batch of domain name requests set to be announced on the September 27, Afilias has announced that it will go on to take a second round of registrations before opening up real-time registration in early October.

According to the Afilias Web site, .info domains are already accessible, including those for Microsoft, Starbucks, Nokia and Dell. Apparently, the greatest response has been from major coorporates from the US and Europe as they rush to protect their branding.

Afilias claims that tens of thousands of names have been registered so far, 52 percent of which were generated in Europe and 40 percent in either the US or Canada. Nonetheless, the response elsewhere has been less than enthusiastic, with just 5 percent of registrations coming from Asia and 3 percent coming from Latin America.

Kylie Hutchinson, business product manager for Internet Pacific which handles Australian domain name registration requests, describes the local response to the .info release as lukewarm at best.

“We have had zero interest in .biz, and only very limited interest in .info,?Hutchinson said. “People don’t want to move away from what they are familiar with, they know more or less what .com and .org means, so .info just confuses things.?

Hutchinson believes that despite the best of intentions, the releasing of the .info and .biz TLDs would not lead to increased naming flexibility with respect to naming on Internet, as the established brands would move quickly to secure their naming rights.

Internet Pacific was also concerned that due to the nature of the registration process, they would not be able to guarantee customers that they would obtain the name for which they applied.

“Afilias is calling for registrations but they are not telling you what has already been registered, and we were not prepared to charge our customers with for a service and then have to tell them that the dot-info domain name they wanted was already taken,?Hutchinson said.

Given the response of local companies to the dot-info release, the .au Domain Administration (auDA) is understandably skeptical about the need to provide more TLDs in Australia. auDa chief executive officer Chris Disspain said the industry body was under no pressure in Australia to follow ICANN’s lead, as Australian companies and institutions already had a considerable array of TLD choices.

“We already have .com, .net, .asn, .org, and .id, and we will be reviewing the top level domains on offer in this country at some stage next year,?Disspain said.

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