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01 Mar 2011
By Isobelle Fabian
Mar
01
2011

Bracing for the domain name revolution

domain-names-dot-com-blog-header

There are plenty of wild and crazy things happening on the internet, but domain names aren’t usually one of them.  The domain name system tends to function quietly and efficiently in the background, administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). But domain names are about to become centre stage for the first time.

Brace yourselves – .anything is coming.

At the moment, there are a limited number of generic or worldwide top level domains (gTLDs for short). .Com, .net and .org are all examples of this type of domain. New gTLDs are occasionally introduced, and the introduction of .asia in 2007 brought the total number up to 21 (the complete list of gTLDs can be found here if you are interested, including such obscurities as .aero and .museum).

Still, ICANN thinks more gTLDs are needed – a lot more. In a move that will turn the domain name system as we know it upside down, ICANN plans to introduce an unlimited number of new domain name extensions – in effect, any word or combination of letters could become a domain name extension. They are expecting 500 new applications in the first round alone, which would result in an explosion of new domain name extensions.

Current thinking is that the new extensions will most likely fall into three main categories:

”Vanity” gTLDs used by companies for their own business. For example, Canon have already expressed an interest in the .canon domain.

Generic gTLDs such as .bank, .restaurant, .phone

Geographic gTLDs relating to cities or districts – for example, Berlin intends to apply for a .Berlin gTLD.

Domain name revolutionOwners of these new gTLDs could either choose to sell subdomains (eg; the owner of the <.bank> domain could sell <anz.bank>, <national.bank>) or to maintain the gTLD for its exclusive use (eg; <shop.canon, customerhelp.canon>). However, with an application fee of $185,000 US and ongoing costs of US$60,000 per year, it’s likely that most new registrants will be looking at ways to recoup some of that investment.

So when is all this happening? Nobody is quite sure. The rules and regulations for the application process are not yet finalised, so best guess at the moment is that the first new gTLDs will go live towards the end of this year.

If you’re interested in the details of the proposal, the latest version of the Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook (the rules and regulations for the new gTLDs) is on the ICANN website here. There’s also a useful summary from the Department of Broadband, Communications and Media.

The big question in my mind is whether the new domains will replace .com as the default domain name option.

Will we learn to search for .canon instead of canon.com? What do you think?

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Posts: 1

14 Comments

  1. do you think Telstra will look at obtaining .Telstra ? Telstra could then have domains such as Online.telstra or NextG.telstra

  2. Miguel Aguirre says:

    This looks just as a strategy by ICANN to increase its revenue without creating any real extra value. Seriously, will there be any difference between .telstra and .telstra.com? For ICANN definitely, 60K extra per year.

  3. Dawn Charangat says:

    for all reasons, canon.com website might redirect the users to .canon for the initial months until users get used to this, but one practicality will go right out of the window -- All this while, businesses have been associated with a domain identifier: com -- commerical, org -- non commercial organization, net -- network etc…. now what will one identify a \nextg.telstra\ domain as ?

  4. Andrew says:

    It will be interesting to see whether this shifts conventions on how URLs are used. Currently, there is a trend away from using “www.” at the start of domains. However, if any.thing can be a domain, in order for people to realise it’s a domain, there will need to be something identifying it as such. Perhaps the “www.” prefix will come back into fashion. Certainly, it’s shorter and easier than “http://”.

  5. At ~$180000 up front and ~$60000 per year *.telstra is a bargain. Grab it. Quickly.

  6. Rowan Parmiter says:

    Of course we need a .Telstra domain, for such a large company its a must.

  7. Rob Maietta says:

    Considering you can get a domain name these days for almost nothing, it seems like a lot of money.

    Still, if theres a business case that can make it work, go for it.

  8. Shane says:

    I honestly don’t know why it is preferable for anyone to use top level domains of their own construct rather than just subdomains. It’s going to cause absolute chaos for sites who aren’t funded by big business -- the potential for them to lose what makes the URL specific to the site, is huge.
    In any case, hopefully the price of application keeps the majority of novelty gTLD’s out. There is most certainly not a need for greater opportunity to ‘express’ oneself on the internet.

  9. James C says:

    .telstra would be great, especially with ipv6, the NBN and all things IP in the future..

    Can you imagine
    .telstra domains for each of our customers, one per phone number!

  10. Isobelle says:

    Some good points!

    Dawn, I’m not sure that people do specifically look for .net / .org and so on any more -- my experience has been that people use .com or .com.au as a default. Which is interesting in itself as it reflects a trend of domain names becoming more centralised around .com, while ICANN’s plan is the ultimate decentralisation!

    Andrew -- that’s a really good point that I hadn’t thought of before. Advertisers might have to go with lines like “Find us at ___” instead, or as you say start using www. again.

    Re the .telstra -- I think it comes back to the issue about what value a gTLD really has to a company. I’m not sure there is an answer to that one yet, particularly with the Draft Applicant Guidebook yet to be finalised.

  11. Dashworlds says:

    Perhaps it’s more about allowing the average Internet user the opportunity to compete on reasonably equal terms with the few Corporations and Multi-Nationals that seemingly hold all the cards.

    With over 205 million domain names already registered (about 90 million of them dotcoms), trying to find a creative, unique, relevant and memorable address for less than a few million dollars, has become an almost impossible task.

    Even if you’re lucky and do find something interesting (that’s too expensive?), just ask someone near to you how many websites they can actually recall. The chances are maybe a dozen (and that will include the likes of Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter). Things have to change to bring the Web back to a more level playing field.

    Sites such as Dashworlds.com provide free domain names in the format “business-com”, “paris-fashion” and even “blue-cheese” (examples only). Totally outside the realm and control of ICANN, the public can create any domain or any TLD in any language, instantly and at no cost (and of course Dashcoms can’t collide with Dotcoms)

    With users and members in over 90 countries worldwide, resolution is via an APP (with new ISP links to negate that need).

    Not-so-long-ago, people would have thought the Internet itself to be a complete waste of time effort and money. After all why would you want to buy a hugely expensive computer, get an extra phone line, buy a modem, buy an OS, learn how to use it all….Just so you could read the news? All you had to do was walk down to the newsagent…or simply turn on your not-so-flatscreen Television.

    Having just one Internet arena floating in infinite cyberspace is like saying you can visit anywhere in the USA as long as it’s on Route 66. So now, just as in the USA and everywhere else in the world, the Web has more than one option (without the $185,000 plus potentially millions of dollars in annual overheads).

  12. Cliff Hemple says:

    “Will we learn to search for .canon instead of canon.com?”

    Umm… if you’re “searching” for canon.com you seem to have totally misunderstood what searching is for. You DO know about that funny little URL window in your browser, don’t you?

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