Late last year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that they were opening up registration for more top level domains on the internet. Starting next week, the familiar “.com”, “.edu” and the other 20 well-known TLD’s maybe joined by as many as 1900 new domains over the course of the next few years. Among the first that will be released for use will be “.book”, “.bike” and “.wed” as well as specific corporate domains for large companies like “.apple”, “.google” and “.ford”.
What this means for you:
If you already work for a company with a well-established and/or well-known domain, your marketing folks (and the lawyers) may explore the new TLD’s primarily to protect the company’s brand from competitors or domain squatters. They should know that as part of the introduction of more TLD’s, ICANN has also introduced a new trademark clearinghouse where infringement challenges can be handled before the legal knives come out. If you are in the process of establishing your online identity and have been under the impression that all the “good” domain names have been taken (for TLD’s like “.com” they have, for the most part), the new TLD’s may present an opportunity for certain businesses and creative marketers.
However some industry analysts are worried that the proliferation of TLD’s may just lead to more confusion and uncertainty on the internet for the majority of users. For example, once “.google” goes live, when I want to search for something, do I go to “google.com” or “search.google” or “www.google” or “google.google”. My guess, at least with Google, all of those will work, but imagine trying to tell your grandmother the difference between them (there might be!) or why there is more than one URL, especially after you finally got her to start using Google in the first place. It’s too soon to say, but given how confusing the internet is now, one thing it’s not likely to simplify will be internet security.
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