Two closed registry applications one open
It's interesting to analyse a specific product domain string like "tires" as compared to category generics like "store" and "beauty" as examined on other pages.
There are two applications for closed registries for the valuable .tires domain names. Unsurprisingly, they are from two of the world's largest tire companies Bridgestone (#1) and Goodyear (#3).
There is just one application for an open registry from Donuts LLC and this contrasting application is covered in the column at left. Despite their name, Donuts is not a tire company.
Every single tire domain illustrated by the chrome buttons on this page is very likely to be owned in exclusivity by just one company. Whichever company becomes the dot tires registry will then control every conceivable dot tires domain in the world.
Despite their repeated claims to be committed to competition as shown on the ICANN Claims page, ICANN has accepted the $185,000 application fees from Bridgestone and Goodyear for "walled garden" registries. So one wealthy company will most likely own the following websites (and hundreds more) with all its competitors conveniently locked out from the tire channel:
SPECIAL NOTE: Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) also owns Firestone and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company owns Dunlop, Kelly, Debica, Sava and Fulda.
Asymmetric Domain Applications
The problem with this three way contest as with some other domain contests is the fact that it is very unequal.
For the two closed registry applicants, the .tires string is a "must have". The potential income and future business flowing from exclusive ownership of the string could run into the billions. No-one knows exactly how successful the new domain names will be, but the $350 million already collected by ICANN merely in application fees from many of the world's most successful and innovative corporations gives an indication of the anticipated scope.
If the .tires extension goes to auction between Bridgestone and Goodyear, there is no real reason it won't go for hundreds of millions of dollars. Because a monopoly in the lucrative tire market would be worth that much. But it would be bad luck for the unfortunate tire companies and tire dealers who aren't affiliated with the winning bidder.
The key point is the rewards for Goodyear or Bridgestone to win possession of .tires could be quite massive, looking ahead 20 years and beyond at the next generation of the web. In contrast, the benefits for Donuts in owning the .tires string would be relatively modest, a fraction of the value that could accrue for the giant tire companies. In any case, Donuts have raised only about $100m to be spread around their 300 or so applications for domain strings. Their budget for the .tires domains will surely be vastly exceeded by Goodyear or Bridgestone.
And so Donuts will almost certainly be outbid for the extension by one of the tire conglomerates. So much for competition, so much for ICANN's commitment with the US Department of Commerce.
Over time, through powerful advertising of the extension .tires, it's likely that Bridgestone or Goodyear will seem to be synonymous with the word "tires" a powerful way to dramatically increase market share. Read more about this type of "virtual trademark" on the Brands page... I wish I could express this principle as well as Parminder Jeet Singh does on the Beauty String page.
So how does all this affect Joe Shmoe? Let's say Joe has a gas station in Santa Monica. He will be prohibited from owning Joes.tires and he will be able to blame ICANN policies as authorized by the US Department of Commerce. Francois.tires won't be permitted in Paris. Wangs.tires won't be permitted in Shanghai. Paddys.tires won't be permitted in Ireland.
There are almost 30,000 independent tire dealers in the US alone. All these dealers will likely be blocked from any use of .tires domain names.
SPECIAL NOTE: Tire is spelt "tyre" in some countries such as Australia.
Bridgestone closed .tires application
Bridgestone is the worlds largest tire and rubber company. Edited excerpts from their .tires application follow:
STRATEGIC INSIGHT: Here is Bridgestone's explanation for wanting .tires to be a private internet with their competitors locked out by owning all the tire domain names, Bridgestone says competition will actually increase due to a "flow on effect". The added advantage for internet users is that other tire companies will be forced to improve services and offer more competitive pricing. That's not the only advantage for web users, they will also have hundreds of new ways to interact with Bridgestone & Firestone websites.
Will ICANN fall for this?
Excerpts source: Pool.com, Bridgestone's .tire application
Goodyear closed .tires application
Goodyear has 53 factories in 22 countries serving 40,000 outlets.
STRATEGIC INSIGHT: In its application for the .tires string, Goodyear is asked how its bid adds competitiveness to the web. Goodyear's response is to say that by operating a closed registry it will hence be enabled to meet "competitive market demands."
Source: Pool.com, Goodyear's .tire application
Michelin Weighs In
In March 2013 Michelin sent an important post to the ICANN forum on closed registries entitled: Michelin Comment on Closed Generic TLDs
Michelin, the world's second largest tire group, has 115,000 employees whose livelihoods depend on the continuing prosperity of the company. They have been using the word "tire" in their communications since 1889.
In its objection, Michelin first stresses the significant and growing importance of the internet channel to its customers for research and purchase and makes this statement: "According to the website Modern Tire Dealer, online retail sales in the US would reach $200 billion in 2012 and $279 billion in 2015."
Michelin then expresses its extreme concern about the potential exclusive use of the .tires string by either Bridgestone or Goodyear with reference to their closed applications:
Read Michelin's complete post about the .tires applications by Bridgestone and Goodyear.
(Emphases by SuperMonopolies.)
The new domains are on the horizon. For years, ICANN has been preaching its commitment to competition. Unfortunately, with reference to multiple applications for closed gTLDs, its actions speak otherwise and ICANN will have to be held to account for this.
You can read ICANN's full list of domain string applications here.
SuperMonopolies.com A hypothetical analysis of the new top level domain names coming in 2013-14.
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