Is it the end of an era for .com? The Internet faces a domain name revolution!


The world of website names is about to be completely revolutionized. At the moment, a Web address can only end with one of 22 suffixes — .com, .org and .net are among the most popular — but in the near future websites could end with more tailored suffixes such as .kids, .shop or .nyc (for a big city like New York).

The body in charge of deciding the rules for website names, ICANN (International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), announced in June, 2011 that it will liberalize the market of address endings — also known as gTLD’s, generic top-level domains — allowing anyone to choose whatever suffix they want for their website, including ideograms and Arabic characters.

The Internet community, governments and companies have been campaigning for the liberalization of websites’ names for years. But with a customized domain name to cost around $185,000, it is expected that only big organizations will apply for now. “It may also take twice that amount to operate and maintain a proper gTLD of their own, a condition ICANN has made obligatory for all applicants,” points out Robin Wauters of TechCrunch.com. “The question is if the advantages of owning a ‘brand domain’ justify the high costs involved.”

As seen in N.Y. Metro, Beatrice Bedeschi interviews Brad White, ICANN’ s director of global media affairs.

What are the main changes you expect to happen after this decision?

That is the most exciting part of it: We don’t know, in the sense that now it is up to the creativity of the people, and their capacity to imagine new ideas. Nobody could forecast the success of Twitter or Facebook, until they completely changed the way we interact on the Web.

Do you think that companies will be forced to buy a customized name just to protect their brand?

There are safeguards built into the system, with strict rules on how to apply and what documentation to present. In other words, if someone applies for a specific suffix with the name of a company or a brand, we check that he is acting on behalf of the company and has the right to do so.

Do you think the $185,000 fee will prevent people from applying?

That’s the fee you have to pay just for the registration of the domain. Then you have to add all the money it needs to be administered. And one can make money by selling second-level domains afterward. The application is open to everyone, but of course we expect big companies to apply mostly.

“This may turn out to be the decision with the most repercussions ever taken by ICANN,” says technology writer Robin Wauters from TechCrunch.com. “It may represent an excellent opportunity for companies, organizations and cities worldwide to benefit from strong branding. On the other hand, the new extensions might cause confusion with end users.”



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