The votes are in…as of today, the heads of the Internet (as I like to call them), ICANN has voted to allow virtually an unlimited amount of new domain names to be made available for registration. To see what I mean, let’s break down a current domain name:
ledfrog.com is a 2nd-level domain registration within the .com namespace. With .com being a top-level domain (TLD) that allows unregulated registrations in the 2nd level, anyone can register a .com domain if it’s available.
Throughout the years, new TLDs or extensions were adding to the domain system to help alleviate demand for domain names. Among vanity extensions such as .travel, .info and .biz, each country in the world was assigned a 2-character country code to allow those countries to offer domains to its citizens. More recently, ICANN approved the use of .xxx specifically for adult-content sites.
This system has worked rather well consider how old DNS is! However, with the advent of new technology and masses of people jumping online each and every day, large companies have had to register handfuls of domains just to protect their brands and trademarks. With over 300 TLDs currently available, these costs can add up. Current registration costs can range from $7 to $600 per year for each domain. That’s even if they can get their brand as a domain. Dealing with cyber-squatters and other infringers have likely cost companies millions of dollars.
The future of domains appears to be the availability of new, custom registrations of top-level domains. Imagine Apple Inc. being able to own .apple or .iphone!
To be honest, when I first heard this news, I was worried. I feel like part of the domain system is the uniqueness of it—the rarity of it. Of course, this could just be me looking at it from a business standpoint, but I’m under the impression that offering these unlimited domains will essentially devalue domains as a whole.
That was until I found out about the registration costs! ICANN has announced that each application will carry a fee of $185,000 while annual renewal of the domain will cost $25,000. This should stop 99% of the spammers out there for sure!
It’s clear that these domains will be somewhat of a luxury for large coporations and/or the rich individual who might want to register some generic domain name like .car or .games which makes me feel better about not letting another million useless websites appear online overnight from people looking to make money off selling a domain name.
While this new plan seems like a good idea on the surface, another concern I have is how the public will accept this. Anyone who follows the domain industry knows how hard it has been to promote any domain other than .com, so how will this be any different? The Internet world is so used to typing in something and then following it with .com or another known extension, but this is just confusing. Typing in .apple just doesn’t make sense, but I guess that’s what people said 30 years ago when people were just learning about the Internet.
I’ve been on the Internet since 1997 and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the domain industry and this is by far the largest of them all. But one thing has remained true throughout all of it—nobody remembers a domain extension as well as a .com domain. In this case, only time will tell if this will change.