2 Dec 2013
As the Internet grows, so does the need for new and unique domain names. As of January 2014, an entirely new selection of generic top level domain names (gTLDs) will become available to the general public for use at a rate of approximately 10 new extensions per week.
Since 2012, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened up application registration for new gTLDs, companies have applied for more than 2,000 domain name extensions.
ICANN’s mission is to “ensure a stable and unified global Internet.” The intent of this huge change is to expand the current Internet real estate so that Internet users can have more productive website searches and businesses and others better website recognition online. It will also aid in match website URLs more closely to certain themes.
The current generic domain name extensions that most Internet users are familiar with include .net, .com, .org and .biz; as well as international country codes, such as .uk (United Kingdom) and .jp (Japan). Sponsored gTLDs include .edu, .gov, .mil and .jobs.
What are the Benefits of New Domain Name Extensions?
With gTLDs that match certain types of communities, websites with community gTLD extensions become recognized as gathering places for members of those communities. For example, URL addresses with extensions .art and .singles are easily recognized as websites designed to engage artists and singles. Community recognition also extends to geographic locations, such as .nyc, .vegas, .london and .berlin.
The new gTLDs also give companies the ability to continue to retain their online trademarks and bring focus and customer engagement to their brands. Current applications exist for .apple, .hbo, .bbc, .sony and .americanexpress. Some companies have also applied for gTLDs that are abbreviations or slang for their brands commonly used by the public, such as .amex.
Industry and Product Affiliation
Companies also now have the ability to use domains with extensions that more closely match their industries and products. Current applications include specific products, such as .ipad, .youtube and .playstation; as well as generic descriptors, such as .build, .plumbing, .estate, .grocery, .hair, .app and .tires.
The new gTLDs make the Internet more accessible to those who do not speak a Latin-based language. Domain extensions can be written in English or in foreign languages that have a Latin base, such as .uno for Spanish speakers. They can also have characters from non-Latin languages like Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Korean and Japanese, such as 삼성 (requested by Samsung), 盛贸饭店 (requested by Shangri-La Hotel Management Limited) or بيتك (requested by Kuwait Finance House).
This change also offers businesses the opportunity to expand Internet-based products and services and provides new avenues and opportunities for job creation and streamlined hiring. One example: companies will need experienced to help them implement the switch to the new domain extensions and then maintain and keep secure their servers.
What are the Cons of the New Domain Extensions?
If your brand is known by a two-letter extension, such as GE for General Electric or FD for Ford, you are out of luck. Currently, ICANN has not approved two-letter generic top-level domain extensions.
Each applicant must pay a fee of $185,000 in U.S. dollars to pre-register for a gTLD without any guarantee of application approval. Worse yet, 30 percent of the application fee is non-refundable if an applicant decides to pull his application before the judging process begins.
More than one applicant can apply for the same gTLD. An applicant must meet 14 points out of a 16-point criteria system to be considered a valid applicant. When more than one applicant meets the criteria, the second phase applicants must then compete in an auction to win the gTLD.
Even if an applicant wins, he is faced with additional start-up costs, such as the salaries for necessary new IT staff. Since Internet addresses have never been changed this extensively before, there are also considerable security risks which will require extra manpower, hardware and software. An applicant can also experience revenue losses if someone infringes on his trademark resulting in brand recognition reduction and legal fees.
The Internet seems limitless and the new gTLDs certainly make it feel that way. Only time will tell if these changes will have the results that ICANN and many businesses and website owners are banking on.