Amazon’s Domain Bid up the Creek without a Paddle
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is holding its 46th meeting in Beijing this week in order to discuss the implementation of thousands of new gTLDs, or Generic Top Level Domains, across the internet. But while tech giants like Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Oracle are all likely to be assigned their own gTLDs ending in .cisco, .google, .microsoft and .oracle, another big internet player looks likely to miss out on the action.
SiliconANGLE has learned that Amazon is facing the prospect of being refused ownership of the .amazon domain, despite being the only company to bid for that name. This is because its bid has run into the considerable opposition of every single Latin American and Caribbean country, which have turned round to unanimously declare that no application for the domain .amazon will be acceptable to them.
The declaration came at this weekend’s Cuarta Conferencia Ministerial sobre la Sociedad de la Información de América Latina y el Caribe (ELAC) held in Montevideo, Uruguay, where those attending put out a four page declaration outlining their joint goals for the future of IT. In it, there’s an important section covering the new gTLDs, which spells out their opposition to anyone getting their hands on the .amazon domain.
“Aware that requests have been submitted to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to register the generic top-level domain (gTLD) names “.amazon” and “.patagonia” in several languages… We reject any attempt to appropriate, without the consent of the respective countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the denominations “amazon” and “patagonia” in any language, or any other generic top-level domain (gTLD) names referring to geographical areas or historical, cultural or natural features, which should be preserved as part of the heritage and cultural identity of the countries of the region.”
Now this is sure to come as a big blow to Amazon’s bosses, given the company’s drive to snatch up as many gTLDs as it possibly can. Alongside Google, Amazon has been one of the most aggressive companies in pursuing new gTLDs, applying for control of 56 new domain names in total, including .aws, .book, .drive, .game, .movie, .music and .play, among others. Some of these bids have attracted controversy, most notably its attempt to secure control of the .book domain. That move was widely condemned by both the Author’s Guild and rival firm Barnes & Noble, who believe that Amazon would refuse to allow any other bookseller to use that domain, something they consider to be an “abuse”.
What Impact Will The New gTLDs Really Have?
Losing out on its primary domain .amazon means that Amazon will miss out on a wealth of perceived benefits that come with owning a ‘branded’ internet domain. But just what these benefits may be, and how important they are, remains a matter of debate.
Several experts have pointed to new domain extensions and opportunities for a wider variety of brands, organizations and services as one of the main advantages of owning a branded gTLD, but just how advantageous these will actually be is unclear. After all, companies have so far managed perfectly well without any branded domains, offering a full range of services to their online customers.
What’s more, given that Google already favors large brands in its search algorithm, gTLDs probably won’t provide much of an SEO advantage to domain owners either. No matter who ends up with the .book domain, a search for “online books” is inevitable going to turn up Amazon.com as one of the top choices.
Instead, the real benefits of gTLDs could well lie in the marketing advantages they provide. Essentially, companies could use them as a kind of gimmick – for example, Cisco could allow its distributors to register under the “.cisco” domain, making it easier for customers to determine whether or not a distributor is Cisco certified. Alternatively, Jeff Ernst writes in Forbes that a company such as Adidas or Nike could buy a domain like .run in order to create a community of running enthusiasts, giving them personalized web domains through which they can track their mileage and pace.
Amazon hasn’t ever indicated its reasons for wanting to control the .amazon domain, nor any other gTLD for that matter, but nevertheless it clearly does see an opportunity to further its aims in them. Presuming that some of the Latin American nations blocking its bid for .amazon will be represented at this week’s ICANN meeting, it’s likely that we’ll be hearing more on this story soon.
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