Last summer, the word got out that ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) was hosting applications for new website extensions that would completely reshape the landscape of the Internet. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, you no doubt know what ‘.com’, ‘.org’, and ‘.net’ are. There’s not many website extensions around now, making things fairly easy – but at the same time, greatly limiting business options insofar as creating an Internet presence. Once those few (plus a few minor other ones) are snapped up, your choices are limited to creating a strange play on words to create your business name online, or paying out the nose to another business interest to get the rights to that name and extension.
ICANN is changing this landscape by proposing new extension names, like ‘.llc’, ‘.movie’, ‘.design’, ‘.home’, and about another 1,500 or so more, which is certain to create a new ‘gold rush’ mentality among businesses.
Who stands to profit, here? Well, ICANN is certainly not hurting – after all, it charges $185,000 per name, and that’s on an application basis. Some companies, such as Google, can afford such luxuries – they applied for about 100 domain extension names, and probably hardly noticed the dip in their funds. Regardless of monetary ability and who applies for what extension, once these are approved by ICANN it’s going to completely change how people surf the Web.
Sedo, one of the largest domain marketplaces in the world, reports further that this might not necessarily be a good thing, according to a survey they conducted. This research concluded that more than half of respondents think this will cause nothing but confusion among the WWW population at large.
“This research makes it clear that more education is needed if new gTLDs are to be successful,” said Tobias Flaitz, Sedo’s CEO. “The public deserves to know that something as engrained in their daily lives as the Internet will be fundamentally changing. If the public doesn’t understand why this is happening then there will be little chance for success.”
And if the public has problems with it, your business might as well. Unless you can claim some really catchy domain name/extension combination, the addition of even a few hundred extensions, let alone 1,500, is going to cause all kinds of havoc out there. Keeping your business’s Internet presence alive and well means having to delve into this mess and keeping abreast of all the extensions that might have a connection to your business (e.g. ‘.movers’ for a moving company).
The flip side is completely ignoring this and keeping what you may already have, sticking with the tried-and-true ‘.com’ address you might already have, and let the madness storm on through. Only you know what’s best for your business’s Internet footprint; if this is a major part of what you do, you’re going to want to keep an eye on things.