You can no longer register for the new gTLDs with ICANN. Registration closed on Thursday, March 29. ICANN says there were only 839 registered users in the application system on March 25, though the number will be updated.
The organization lists seven steps that applicants need to take:
Applicant completes TAS user account information (user profile and applicant profile)
Applicant completes a TLD application request
ICANN conducts the Legal Compliance check (see Applicant Guidebook section 1.2.1 – Eligibility)
Applicant submits USD 5000 registration fee
ICANN confirms receipt of the USD 5000 registration fee
Applicant completes and submits the full application and remaining evaluation fee amount of USD 180000
ICANN confirms receipt of the USD 180000 registration fee
"Once ICANN completes Step 3 we strongly encourage applicants to promptly complete Step 4 for all open application requests," ICANN says. "Since no one can predict how long it may take for ICANN to receive wire transfers from your bank, you might experience delays in obtaining access to the areas within TAS necessary to complete your TLD application(s). Bank delays and the up to 5 business days it might take ICANN to reconcile your fee will impact how much time remains for you to complete and submit your final application, submit your final USD 180000 evaluation fee, and for ICANN to confirm receipt of that fee. Both the completed application and final fee must be received by ICANN no later than 23:59 UTC on 12 April 2012."
Watch our recent interview with Dan Jaffe, EVP of Government Relations with the Association of National Advertisers, who deems the expansion of TLDs "reckless and premature":
ICANN is also currently seeking public comment on .com registry renewals.
ICANN should soon be getting a new CEO. Last month, the organization announced that it had narrowed down its candidates to 16 choices, and that a new CEO would be chosen in April. It should be interesting to see how it's operated under new leadership, and how the gTLD strategy evolves under new leadership.