One of the most interesting discussions on ICANN today is about brand management in the age of new gtld's and you had a panel of top brand managers from organisations and big lawyer office talking about the prospects and problems of these big gtld's sitting on the panel or in the room.
Afterwards it was clear that this professional informed public thinks that a few hundred applications for new gtld (domeinextensions like .be, .com and others) will be filled even if the process is very flawed for the moment - from a legal point of view.
What does this mean for you ?
If you think that you may need such an extension and that you could use it internally (for your internal secured network or extranet) or internationally as brandmarketing than it is time to start thinking, budgeting and planning it because there is not so much time left and all the laywers and specialists in the panel agreed that it takes a lot of time internally to get everybody around the executive board room to agree. It is about much money, estimates to upto 500.000 dollars operational costs included and marketing costs could go in the millions for big enterprises who will want to change all their online marketing and the offline references to their online presence.
The other problem is about who is going to operate them ? Who has the experience now and in the future to operate such networks, dns services and administrative background checks. You can say that this may be the registrar companies that already exist (dns.be for Belgium for example) but this is maybe not so evident because some of them may be direct competitors - except if in Belgium one decides that the operational infrastructure has to be seperated from the different gtld's that maybe operational in this country. THis could be .be, .vl, .wal and maybe some others.
Imagine that a .bank or a .travel gets hacked on their root dns servers and all traffic gets diverted or sniffed ? Imagine the brand reputation damage that would give. THis would be like an atomic explosion on the internet as big as the DDOS on yahoo and Microsoft in the years 2000.
The main problem the lawyers were having - and which could become a real headache for the process and for the people who are filing for such a new gtld may be that the dispute process will have to be adapted because it now takes too long before it is concluded.
Nobody was really showing its cards but the feeling was there that it is a really complicated but very important process. You can say that the cost maybe high, but that is relative. THe real question for marketing people is how the public will react, but that is a question for afterwards. THe public will follow whatever major happens on the internet that gives them new interesting or secure services.