Last week, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – who has the responsibility for maintaining the Internet’s domain name system – revealed that it has received nearly 2,000 applications for the new generic top-level domains (gTLD’s).
This rollout will mark the greatest expansion of the internet’s infrastructure since its creation. It has yet to be revealed how these organisations plan to use the domain names – which cost a whopping $185,000 for the application fee alone. The bigger question is how these organisations plan to use these domains as a digital marketing tool?
While many applications may not go through, it’s almost certain that there will be hundreds of new domain name extensions, which will change the way we view the internet in its current form. The current system from ICANN is country orientated e.g .au for Australia. However people were campaigning that it was unfairly increasing the value of certain domain names because in theory there is an unlimited supply of domain names, but because of the geographic dispersal there was a restricted supply. The debate was sparked because certain countries were lucky with what they were given, e.g .me (Montenegro) was popular because ‘me’ appears to be personalised to the individual and .ly (Libya) because a lot of English words end with ‘ly’ e.g brief.ly, name.ly.
Many have viewed the extension undesirably and see it as, unnecessary, and uninventive. There is also a feeling that a lot of brands have almost been forced to sign onto the system for protection of their brand and identity.
As expected Microsoft, Apple, and Google applied for .microsoft, .apple, and .google respectively along with dozens of other brands applying for extensions bearing their names. Google was the biggest subscriber, applying for over 100 domains – three of which are .lol, .youtube, and .docs. While interestingly Apple applied for just one gTLD, .apple. Amazon applied for 76 extensions including .music, .mail, and .buy. At the same time, Microsoft has applied for 11 strings including .windows, .microsoft, and .live.
ICANN will ask all the applicants to try to work a deal out amongst themselves; if a deal cannot be reached, domain extensions will be sold in an auction which will likely result in the domains being sold for seven figures or more. .app might be one to look at for controversy as it was the most sought after top level domain.
These domains do cost a lot, however they give the owner the right to sell, which means the potential to have millions of domain names. For instance, .xxx (take a guess), will most likely skyrocket in terms of purchasing of domain names, and others simply won’t.
There will be a few brands that will execute a well-planned strategy, or that will come up with a famous site, but in the end it will come down to the branding and product offering to determine whether it will be successful no matter what they call themselves. Proof of that is in all the random names that people have had to come up with e.g. Twitter.
It will take years to determine whether the venture was a success or not, or to measure which were the clear winners in it all, but one thing is for certain, the world wide web will never be the same again.