After reading the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook (AG) that was published today, my feeling is that ICANN will approve the program in Singapore as planned while some of the specific rules in the Guidebook may and probably will change along the way.
The newest version of the AG provides no material or substantive changes from the previous version.
There is a lot of cleanup going on but no earth shattering change.
ICANN does give itself plenty of wiggle room to make changes on an ongoing basis as it now provides in the AG:
“ICANN reserves the right to make reasonable updates and changes to this applicant guidebook and to the application process at any time by posting notice of such updates and changes to the ICANN website, including as the possible result of new policies that might be adopted or advice to ICANN from ICANN advisory committees during the course of the application process. ”
“Applicant acknowledges that ICANN may make such updates and changes and agrees that its application will be subject to any such updates and changes. ”
“In the event that Applicant has completed and submitted its application prior to such updates or changes and Applicant can demonstrate to ICANN that compliance with such updates or changes would present a material hardship to Applicant, then ICANN will work with Applicant in good faith to attempt to make reasonable accommodations in order to mitigate any negative consequences for Applicant to the extent possible consistent with ICANN’s mission to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems.”
This language is consistent with statements made by the Chairman of ICANN at the San Fransisco ICANN meeting to the effect that the AG is an ongoing process with “changes made on the fly” as ICANN “learns as they go”.
Now that these thoughts have been included in the AG it seems to me that it sets the stage for approval of the program in Singapore, with the caveat to all applicants that some of the rules may, and probably will change, before and after the application period opens.
However that’s just another factor that applicants are going to have to take into consideration before making the leap.
Clearly ICANN wants and will push this program forward.
Those with the simplest applications, not subject to objection, will have their applications approved in as little as 9 months while others may under the AG have to wait as long as 20 months for an approval.
and simply put, some strings that are highly objectionable will probably never be approved.
I look for approval of the program in Singapore and a date set for the applications to be submitted.
November 1, 2011, is my guess.
I also predict by the time the first application period closes there will be hundreds of applications for new gTLD.