Starting in 2012, the Web’s set of available domain suffixes will expand from the 22 typical .com, .edu, .net, etc… to .anything.
ICANN, the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the group that oversees the Internet’s domain system agreed on Monday June 20th, 2011 to open an application window for proposing new domain suffixes, which could be almost any word in any language, including those that use different scripts, like Arabic or Japanese.
This change though, comes at a certain price. Today, the standard dot-com registration circles around 15 dollars. ICANN’s application for a new suffix will be accompanied by an $185,000 fee, which ICANN will keep regardless of the outcome of the application.
Also, ICANN will require applicants to prove they have a legitimate reason to make such a purchase. This is solely done to prevent any one person to go out and steal companies’ trademark with the goal to resell them later, which happened when the web started to grow. The fee will discourage scammers, and cover potential trademark issues.
Here is a word by Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN, found on http://www.icann.org:
“ICANN has opened the Internet’s naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today’s decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind”.
“Today’s decision will usher in a new Internet age,” said Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman of ICANN’s Board of Directors. “We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration.”
The recent announcement is already facing some criticism. ICANN’s move is opening the gate for large corporations and brands to drive the future of the Internet. Canon and UNICEF already said they’ll submit an application, and coalitions are forming to apply for more generic terms like “.eco.”
The expansion of the domain name system could turn the URL bar into another place for in-your-face marketing and branding. ICANN expects as many as a thousand applications, mostly from recognized companies and brands. This will benefit the bigger brands today, but the impact of this change, in the long run is much less predictable.
This could turn very expensive for businesses themselves as well. Instead of focusing on the current 22 generic suffixes (.com, .net, .org, and so on), companies will be pressured to “own their brands” by buying up every custom suffix that might come in handy. If nothing else, they’ll want to buy them simply to prevent someone else from doing so.
The true impact of this new change will be revealed once it is introduced to the web and its users. Most experts are skeptical of the internet users reactions as today, many web surfers do not understand the structure of a domain and assume everything is dot-com.
ICANN will soon begin a global campaign to tell the world about this dramatic change in internet names and to raise awareness of the opportunities available from new domain suffixes. Applications for new domain names will be accepted from January 12th, 2012 to April 12th, 2012.