The Domain Applications
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has two primary goals to ensure the internet is stable and unified, and to promote & oversee growth and competition in the domain name system.
As at 2013, the number of registered domains in all categories is approaching 250 million, and annual growth is running at somewhere like 12%. Obviously, with a limited number of extensions, the world needs more domains.
Under ICANN's new TLD program, more than 1,000 new domain extensions will launch in the next few years. A comprehensive range of hundreds of new domain options will join the current limited list. This dramatic explosion of naming possibilities will change the internet forever, though nobody knows to what degree.
The new domains will significantly expand the naming spectrum. Given that the number of meaningful, intuitive domains is very finite, it has been increasingly difficult for individuals and companies to acquire domains for their websites. But under the new paradigm, millions of new domain names will be made available subject to various factors.
There are numerous obstacles to be overcome before the new domains become a reality. Some of these factors, for example the "sensitivity" of certain strings such as .kids, are highlighted on the Controversy page.
Prior to 2013 and the dawn of the new generics, there were only 22 generic TLDs. That is about to change in a big way with the introduction of possibly more than 600 new options. An opportunity is emerging for fast thinking companies to conceive of and acquire a modern and premium domain name.
Until the rollout begins, most domains had most of their meaning on the left of the dot that is, in a domain like SmartPhones.com for example, the essential meaning is "smart phones" while the "com" serves a different purpose more concerned with things like authority and navigation. Of course, other extensions like .info have some direct meaning on the right of the dot, domains like SmartPhones.info.
This looks set to change. Soon, countless domains will appear in which half the meaning has jumped to the right of the dot. To continue with the phones example, you will soon see domains like Smart.phone.
Everyone loves short, meaningful and memorable domains, so these new domains are likely to be reasonably successful and popular in many niches. Continuing with the "phone" example, lots of new domains like My.phone, Mobile.phone, Buy.phone, Malibu.phone, Warehouse.phone, Cell.phone and Discount.phone will materialize on the web.
Here are some examples of what will likely be some of the most popular new strings:
The major commercial and media categories are amply covered, and other broad, non-specific strings like .web offer countless naming options in all categories.
There is one huge controversy looming that involves the new generic top level domains the possibility of closed registries. Certain companies want to own and operate entire domain strings on common dictionary words and exclude their competitors from the space. This is discussed in detail on the Controversy page, and the GAC is currently considering this critical issue.
More info about the GAC can be found on the ICANN website.
More info about the GAC objections to closed gTLDs and other problems can be seen in the Beijing Communiqué (PDF).
The dot brand applications are based on trademarks owned by many of the world's greatest corporations. The vast majority will be approved without objection and the brand domains will take their place serving both the corporations themselves and their customers who will have an improved and safer online experience.
For consumers, it will become much easier to find an authentic site for information and purchasing, and the word "trust" is a frequent expression found in many of the dot brand applications. Since it will be a closed registry, visiting any dot brand site such as DigitalCameras.canon will be guaranteed trustworthy since it will be technically impossible for fraudsters to implement a ".canon" domain name. Consumers will quickly learn to make this distinction.
There are however, a few cases in which serious objections have been made to dot brand applications. Notably, objections have been made to the applications for .amazon and .patagonia by the two respective companies who have trademarks on those terms. The grounds are that the words are geographical terms and the residents of those two South American regions have a fundamental prior human right to use of those words. (Amazon and Patagonia, the companies, wish to operate the two strings as exclusive, closed registries).
The objections come from the powerful Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) who take advice from various constituents and in turn advise ICANN on behalf of world governments. ICANN is obliged to take notice of GAC advice and some sort of agreement must be arrived at through negotiation. (What happens to that negotiation if it is inconclusive is beyond the scope of this website).
The applications for .amazon and .patagonia are likely to be rejected. That seems fair and reasonable the two companies took the names of those pre-existing regions to leverage their pre-existing glamor and prestige, and are now seeking to exclude them from their own heritage. That would be an injustice.
More info about the GAC objections to .amazon and .patagonia can be seen in the Beijing Communiqué (PDF).
The city (and region) TLDs look set to become reality with relatively few hurdles. Since they will be administered and regulated by the city authorities themselves, who of course have the undisputed moral right to control their own domain strings, they should proceed without controversy.
It is expected that the city domains will function in a broadly similar way to the existing 280 country code domain strings.
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