I did a news story yesterday for The Times on the new .eu domain, and it proved to be more interesting than I thought.
The new domain – which shouldn't actually exist under the ICANN rules for top-level domains, but when the EU's 29 countries are breathing down you're neck… – is due to be opened up to the public in just under a month's time, 7 April, and we're currently in the sunrise period for trademark holders to grab domains and so prevent cybersquatting and subsequent legal batles.
Actually there's an interesting question: if a company *fails* to register its.eu namesake and then a member of the public grabs it, surely that individual would have a pretty strong case in keeping it by arguing the company had been given plenty of time to grab it and had failed?
Anyway, the interesting review of the domains comes thanks to the tremendous stats provided by EURid, which offer big, real-time breakdowns including Total number of applications; Total number of accepted applications; Total number of rejected applications, all according to individual country. In addition, the EURid whois provided a tremendous amount of details over who has applied for the domain and when.
For example, Amazon has applied 22 times for its domain; Skype 16 times. But Google only once – although 11 others have also applied, and it's first-come, first-served.
The stats also provide a political and social map of Europe. The Germans are roaring ahead in applications – much as they are in real-world domain application – the .de top-level domain is second only to the dotcom registry.
The Brits should be next but instead we come fourth with 9 percent of applications – something that demonstrates more than anything this island's peculiar love-hate relationship with Europe.
I like the fact as well that Volkswagen got to Polo.eu first, beating Ralph Lauren and its Polo clothing range, and Nestle and its Polo mints.
I wonder how many more clashes have taken place. And I wonder how many grabbable domains will be left on 7 Apr. It's all up there to find out.
Most of all I wonder how successful the .eu domain will be in the real world. There have been 301,000 applications for 219,000 domains but then this a sunrise period and it makes sense for companies to grab their domains because it costs them comparatively nothing and there is the risk that .eu could become a big domain in future.
But the real test will come when everyone can buy a .eu domain. Will people really want them? What does .eu do that others don't? Do people feel that European? We shall see.
Oh yes, as for most popular domains – guess what – Sex.eu comes top. The Top Ten reads:
And there you have it.