Dot Kiwi to enhance patriotic flavour of websites
People and businesses who find ".co.nz" insufficiently patriotic may be able to register websites that end with ".kiwi" from next year.
A group of ex-pat New Zealanders based in Vancouver has teamed up with Wellington lawyer Peter Dengate Thrush – a former chairman of worldwide internet governance body Icann – to found a new company, Dot Kiwi, which hopes to cater for those who want a more "Kiwi flavour" to their online identity.
However, what address will be the most "New Zealandish" may be open to debate.
Dot Kiwi, which is Canadian-owned, would compete with New Zealand's non-profit internet society, InternetNZ, which oversees ".nz" addresses and is funded by a compulsory levy on registrations.
Dengate Thrush said the administration of the ".kiwi" registry would be outsourced to Minds and Machines, a company he chairs that is based in Santa Monica in the United States.
InternetNZ president Frank March said all new and existing top-level domains competed with ".nz" and the society had not ruled out lodging its own application to run ".kiwi".
"We'd certainly have a good case to put up, but there are very heavy costs involved in establishing a top-level domain and it is not a process we would undertake lightly. The arguments are quite finely balanced," he said.
Icann only yesterday opened up the internet addressing system to organisations that want to set up new top-level domains to sit alongside favourites such as ".com" and country code domains such as ".nz", and InternetNZ has until April to make up its mind.
Icann expects to receive up to 2000 applications for new top-level domains. Applications are tipped for big-city names such as ".london" and ".newyork". A smattering of multinationals, including Canon, Deloitte and Hitachi have signalled they will apply, meaning they could have websites ending in their own names.
Dengate Thrush said if any other qualified organisations did ask to run ".kiwi" and they could not agree to share the running of the registry, Icann could auction the right to the address.
As it was, Dot Kiwi would need to invest several hundred thousand dollars establishing ".kiwi", he said. As well as an application fee of US$185,000 (NZ$233,000) payable to Icann, each new domain is expected to cost a few hundred thousand dollars to set up. "It is not like applying for a domain name; we are applying to run a registry, which is an engine for producing domain names and a crucial piece of internet infrastructure," he said.
Dengate Thrush expected ".kiwi" addresses would retail for about $25 a year. Dot Kiwi was unlikely to exclude anyone from registering addresses, which would be for "anyone who wanted to claim an allegiance of some sort to New Zealand".
The company would have a "strong philanthropic flavour", he said. It plans to donate 20 per cent of its profits to assist with Christchurch's earthquake recovery through a trust chaired by former High Court judge John Hansen.
Chief executive Tim Johnson, an information technology specialist living in Vancouver, said he had been motivated to set up and fund the business to provide "a way for New Zealanders around the world to connect and claim their `Kiwiness' online", and to support his hometown of Christchurch. Other ex-pat backers include professional company director Hugh Richardson and consultant Jim Cranston, the former chief information officer of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.