If you’ve tried to buy a web domain lately, the process can be daunting. With over 95 million sites registered with the .COM suffix, as well as another cool 35 million across the .NET, .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ AND .US. domain extensions (according to WHOIS), the pickin’s are slim. Many new companies even go as far as to develop their brand name around the availability of a domain, particularly by inventing a word like Google, Zillow, and Twitter. However, help is on the way… sort of.
After three years since it was originally announced, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has finally approved the expansion of Top-Level Domains (TLDs) which will allow companies and organizations to turn their own brands into Internet domain extensions (imagine iPad.apple) or to create broad generic strings such as .CAR, .SPORTS or .BANK.
URLs have never been easy to transfer from one person to another, though URL shorteners like bit.ly have at least made large, unwieldily addresses more manageable. These new TLDs hope to allow companies to brand their internet extensions—take “PS3.Sony” or “IS350.Lexus” for example. Canon has already expressed their interest in nabbing up the “.canon” extension.
The new TLDs offer a unique branding opportunity, but they aren’t cheap. According to Mashable, the application fee alone is $185,000, and the annual fee is $25,000. ICANN predicts between 300 and 1,000 new TLDs could be created.
While this seems like the ultimate post-advertising opportunity to brand your web-presence (presuming websites will be around by the next decade), that price point will make it unattainable to most. Though it seems like the expansion has the potential to usher in a change that may ultimately trickle down to smaller businesses and individuals, the price point must first become a little more manageable.
Naysayers are skeptical, however. We’ve had access to .TRAVEL, .MUSEUM, .JOBS and .MOBI for years and I can’t say I’ve used a single one. .MOBI may be a complete failure now that sites can tell if you are on a mobile device and automatically switch to mobile-friendly versions.
Will these new domains buck the trend and truly move towards a more branded web? Or will they become expensive relics as our collective digital presence continue to change? The comments are yours…