Since the Internet first came into being, the set of generic top-level domains has been fairly small. That’s about to change. Last month ICANN, the organization responsible for managing aspects of the Domain Name System root zone, announced that 1745 applications for new gTLDs had passed the initial examination stage.
Top-level domains are the part of web domain names that follow the final dot (there’s also a dot after TLDs that signify the root domain, but it’s not used in day-to-day Internet use). They are familiar to anyone who uses the Internet, and include “.com”, “.net”, and “.org”. Until a couple of years ago, TLDs were strictly controlled, but in 2011 ICANN announced that they were opening the process up for businesses and other organizations to apply for management of new TLDs.
The process of implementing the new top-level domain names is coming to its conclusion, and, in the near future we’re likely to see hundreds of new TLDs becoming available for registration by site owners, which will be a massive increase from the 30 or so previously available.
The organizations that have applied for new gTLDs include Amazon, Google, VeriSign, and a number of companies created to take advantage of the new market, like Top Level Domain Holdings. Amazon has applied for various of gTLDs that are related to their business activities, including “.author”, “.music”, and “.books”. Google applied for 96 domains that passed through the initial examination process via their own domain registry, Charlestone Road Registry. Many of Google’s applications are for domains like “.dad”, “.boo”, and “.meme”, which are expected to be opened up for public registration once the application process is complete. They also applied for gTLDs that relate to Google’s own brands, like “.youtube”, and “.goog”.
Feelings about the new gTLDs are mixed among industry insiders. For domain registrars it’s an excellent opportunity to take advantage of a significantly increased market, and many feel that the traditional gTLD namespace has become too crowded. It’s very difficult to get hold of a decent short “.com” TLD, because most of them are already registered and in use. Those that aren’t in use are being held by individuals and companies that ask for large amounts of money to transfer their ownership.
On the other hand, Esther Dyson, who was the founding chairperson of ICANN, believes that the new gTLDs are not beneficial to the technical infrastructure of the Internet and are more likely to be of value to marketers. Other objections to the new gTLDs focus of the fact that the application process was prohibitively expensive, in effect excluding all but those with the deepest pockets.
You can check who has applied for which gTLDs over on the ICANN site. Let us know what you think about the new gTLDs in the comments below.