Goodbye .Com, Hello .Anything

Source: Monday, June 20th, 2011
http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/the-tech-observer/2011/06/20/new-domain-names-present-branding-opportunities

Portfolio.com

From next year, companies will be able to ditch .com, .org, and .net, and buy their own top-level domain name.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board has voted to increase the number of "generic top-level domains" from the currently available 22, to any word in any language or script.

"Today's decision will usher in a new Internet age," ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush said in a press release. "We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration."

But the new domains don't come cheap. Applications, which open next year, will cost $185,000, and companies will have to prove they have a connection to the domain they're buying. Ongoing "maintenance" fees will be $25,000 a year - and at that rate, smaller companies will likely be stuck with good old .com.

Although the changes are picked to have an impact in the non-latin alphabet world, it may lead to big companies buying several domain names to prevent brand hijacking. As some more cynical bloggers have pointed out, it's going to be costly.

Ben Crawford, CEO of domain name registry CentralNic, said via email that the new policy presented the opportunity for innovation online. "Web addresses will be more intuitive for consumers and search engines," he said. "New [top-level domain names] also present a "brand-safe" environment that respects the importance of trademark protection and is free from aggregators, fan sites, knock-off sites, phishing and brand abuse."