We’ve become accustomed to websites ending in .com for some time now. Other gTLDs, which stands for “generic top level domains,” have peeked their heads out, like .org, .edu, .mil and .biz. But a new initiative from ICANN, the not-for-profit corporation that manages Internet Protocol address spaces, may mean that we see a deluge of new gTLDs.
The organization is opening the floodgates for organizations to apply for new gTLDs. That means we will see more than the existing 22 top level domains, and may see websites using “.luxury,” “.brand,” “.whatever.” ICANN is encouraging businesses with deep pockets (the application costs $185,000) to create the next “.thing.”
Why Would Anyone Want Their Own gTLD?
ICANN’s introduction video explains that creating your own gTLD can provide a business opportunity for you (you can then sell URLs to others, the way a domain registration site like Network Solutions does), or you can control your brand by creating a gTLD relating to your company name. (Hmm, maybe I should look at “.egg” for my own brand!)
Applying for your own gTLD is a costly and lengthy process. Once companies apply, ICANN researches the application, and it can take about a year before it’s approved. If anyone objects to you registering a particular gTLD, they can do so formally, which could present a knot in the process.
My understanding is: If your competitor doesn’t want you to get the gTLD, they can stop you. Not sure how that will work out. . .
Not everyone’s thrilled about this initiative. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and other organizations have banned together to form the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO). The group feels that the program will cannibalize small and large businesses. According to its press release:
“The proposed ICANN program would permit applicants to claim virtually any word, generic or branded, as an Internet top-level domain. Top Level Domains are everything to the right of the dot, such as .com and .org. In the first year alone, the ICANN plan would allow hundreds of new Top Level Domains, and thousands in the future. This would strongly pressure brand owners at every level of business, including small businesses, consumers, NGOs, charities and foundations, to defensively buy and protect new top level domains.”
Are We Small Businesses Really in Danger?
While CRIDO says small businesses will be the victims in this scenario, it’s not clear whether that’s true. So many top level domains (think .net and .biz) have failed to match the popularity of .com that I don’t see us all scrambling to buy up new, more obscure gTLDs. Large companies will certainly want to protect their brands, and can afford to do so.
As a small business owner, don’t sweat it. You might find the opportunity to get a unique top level domain, but don’t stress about buying up as many as possible. My suggestion is to keep doing what you’re doing, and let’s sit back together and see how this war ends.