On Our 2009 Watch List: New Generic Domain Names
Earlier this year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN) announced a plan to allow new generic level domain names (gTLDs) in addition to current ones like .com, .org, .edu, etc. Under the plan, gTLDs would be virtually unlimited. For instance, Ford could be not only ford.com, but also ford.cars, ford.auto, ford.road, ford.ford, etc.
ICANN states that “the expansion will allow for more innovation, choice and change to the Internet’s addressing system, now constrained by only 21 generic top-level domain names,” and considers this program to be especially important to its efforts to make domain names available that could contain non-ASCII characters or letters (for instance, Arabic or Chinese).
Generic Domain Name’s Don’t sit Well with Goverments and Large Corporations
There is significant opposition to the plan, especially from corporations and governments. The opposing arguments mostly center around two issues: the potentially enormous additional cost to companies that wish to defend their trademarks and brand names, and the possibility that adding hundreds or thousands of new gTLDs could undermine the stability and security of the Domain Name System (DNS).
The Effect On Large Companies Can Cost
Large companies already have to buy thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of domain names to protect their brands – buying not only their trademarked names, but also common misspellings across all 21 current gTLDs. For instance, Google owns not just google.com, but also g00gle.com and google.biz. Depending on the number of new domain names, the price companies pay to control domain names could definitely skyrocket.
So, How Many New gTLDs Will There Be?
No one can predict how many new domain names will pop up because it won’t be cheap to register a new gTLD. Companies wishing to register new gTLDs will need to pay $185,000 to submit the application and $60,000 each year to run the domain. In addition, if a company is not already a registry, it will have to pay $50,000 to be evaluated. In other words, a company will need to be sure that there will be a lot of customers in order to apply for a generic domain. That said, the way to make a fortune is to see opportunity where others don’t, so don’t be surprised if some surprises pop up like .crafts, .florist, or .pizza.
Next week: the proposal’s possible effects on search engine marketing.
James Connell is Search Director at Path Interactive, a NYC-based interactive marketing firm.