By Adrian Kinderis
Last week, I was invited by the United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (TRA) to join ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom at the official launch of the امارات. (.emarat) Arabic script IDN ccTLD. The event was held in Abu Dhabi and was hosted by H.E. Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim Director-General of the United Arab Emirates TRA.
AusRegistry International has enjoyed a strong partnership with the TRA for a number of years now and I am particularly proud of the role our organisation is playing in supporting the Domain Name industry in the UAE with both the .ae, and now the امارات. namespaces.
The launch was a formal recognition of the leading role that the UAE is playing in the introduction of IDN ccTLDs, the most significant transformation of the internet landscape since the creation of the Domain Name System in the 1980s.
This expansion of the internet’s addressing layer to include non-Latin scripts removes a fundamental hurdle that has excluded billions of people in language communities that do not use the Latin alphabet from experiencing the full benefits of the internet revolution.
I would like to congratulate our colleagues at the TRA on the achievement of this historic milestone and make special note of Rod Beckstrom’s generosity in taking the time to come to the UAE to participate in this event.
It is important however, to recognise that while the introduction of IDN ccTLDs is a critical and necessary step in the expansion of internet accessibility, ICANN’s vision of ‘One World, One Internet, Everyone Connected’ currently remains a distant spot on the horizon.
Whilst I sat there amongst the celebration, I began to think about the questions and topics that will need to be addressed as we strive to transform IDNs from an exciting opportunity, into something both viable and sustainable.
To realise the full potential of IDN ccTLDs we all have a long road ahead. The work completed thus far is really only the beginning.
There is no doubt we have a great product at our utilisation, however we must also accept that a product is only as good as the market situations that surround it.
Product Demand and Uptake
• Is the IDN value proposition strong enough to drive change in Registrant and end user audiences?
• Who will be the early adopters and influencers in the uptake of IDN ccTLDs?
• Where can we expect IDNs to be positioned? Is it Value or Price?
End User Behavioural Change
• Will Registrants and end users be open to the change presented by IDN ccTLDs?
• To what extent will Registry operators and Registrars need to invest in marketing and education to drive behavioural change within the end user audience?
• Will IDNs play a role in pulling end users away from search based browsing?
• How will developers of web browsers and other internet applications overcome the complex technical challenges that IDN ccTLDs introduce?
• What changes can countries introducing IDN ccTLDs expect to see with respect to penetration and usage figures?
• Will IDNs play a role in driving online business and market expansion? If so, will governments support this business opportunity?
• To what extent will Registrars take a leading role in educating the user community?
• What is the makeup of a typical IDN Registrar? Is it any different than an existing Registrar?
• What role will IDN ccTLDs play in marketing strategy and execution for leading brands?
• How will marketers handle the transition and implementation of IDN ccTLDs?
• What affect will IDN ccTLDs have on search marketing?
I have been, and will continue to be a strong supporter of the IDN program and am genuinely excited about the transformational effect our work and the work of others is having across the globe.
And please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not pretending to have the answers (at least not yet!) what I am trying to display here is that there is a lot of thought, hard work and dedication still required to realise the full potential of IDN ccTLDs.
Some of these answers need to come from the experts and leaders within the industry, and others will merely become apparent as we learn and evolve with the revolutionary and exciting changes our industry is experiencing.
In the mean time, we should celebrate this significant achievement, but keep one eye carefully focused on the exciting task that lies ahead.
Celebrating the launch of the .emarat IDN ccTLD (from left to right), AusRegistry International CEO Adrian Kinderis, H.E. Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim Director-General of the United Arab Emirates TRA and ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom.