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For better or worse, new gTLDs are coming.
On March 29, ICANN, the organization responsible for managing the internet's domain name system, ended the registration period for those interested in applying for one or more gTLDs.
While we won't know the number of applications received for new gTLDs (a glitch means that some affected parties will have extra time to submit applications), registration itself came with a $5,000 cost, making the number of registrations a potentially useful proxy to gauge how many applications for new gTLDs ICANN may be soon considering.
In an interview with Domain Incite, ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom revealed that some 1,268 user accounts had been created when registration closed on March 29, up from the 839 reported on March 25.
As such, Beckstrom anticipates that the number of applications received is "unlikely to be lower than" 1,268.
That would ensure that the new gTLDs pay off for at least one entity, ICANN. With each application costing $185,000, ICANN could generate more than a quarter of a billion dollars if Beckstrom's expectation is accurate.
While applicants can withdraw their applications at certain points during ICANN's evaluation process, full refunds are not available.
ICANN says it will process applications in batches. The first batch will consist of 500 applications, while subsequent batches will contain 400 applications. How many applications are actually approved remains to be seen.
Applicants must meet certain criteria, multiple parties may apply for the same gTLD and there is a dispute process in place to provide, amongst other things, protection against trademark infringement.
The big question now is what new gTLDs may be hitting the internet in the near future. That, unfortunately, we may not know until as late as June thanks to bugs ICANN is still apparently sorting out.