We’re all familiar with web domains such as .com and .org and .net — called “top-level domains” (TLDs) by the non-profit corporation responsible for preserving the Internet’s operational stability, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). As of Monday, ICANN voted to introduce new top-level domains, meaning that web destinations ending with .paris and .doritos are in our very near future.
Why it’s good news
If you’ve ever tried to purchase a domain name for personal or professional reasons, you know full well the frustration of trying to buy a URL that’s not available. The world has 2 billion Internet users, and with only a handful of domain extensions available, that’s some stiff competition.
For trademark owners and marketers, the opportunity to use a unique .brand TLD means a digital zone free from domain spoofing, counterfeiting and other damaging issues that currently plague brands large and small. If you own the trademark, you can rest assured knowing that your .brand domain will always be available, no matter what new product or promotion you come up with.
Why it’s not-so-good news
New TLDs sound good in theory, right? What’s not to love about a more democratic Internet? For starters, the fact that purchasing a new TLD will cost you upwards of $185,000. And that’s just the application fee. ICANN is also going to need a 200-plus page application, complete with a fully funded business plan and detailed policy documents governing the rules of usage to even consider your claim.
For large corporations and well-known brands, this painstaking process won’t be much more than a headache. The bigger problem for these major players has to do with the hundreds of thousands they’ve already spent on domains registered “defensively” to prevent others from using them. When the number of domains multiplies exponentially, so too will their cost to protect their brands.
The application window will be open from January to April, 2012. All applications will be examined by ICANN and then made public, allowing objections to be heard before the domain in question is granted. When the same TLD is sought by multiple applicants (assuming all applications are of equal merit), the domain will be auctioned and sold to the highest bidder. We’ll be talking tens of millions, to be sure.
In any case, we shouldn’t expect to see any new TLDs in our Google search results until early 2013. What do you think about the new TLDs? Good for business or not so good?