Internet Addresses: Your Relationship? It’s Complicated

Since last summer, Icann, which is a nonprofit organization that coordinates the internet address system has vetted and approved over 1500 applications for new top-level domains. These are the letters to the right of the dot (i.e. .com, .net, .org, etc.).

The idea is to give companies and consumers who are seeking secondary-level domain names options beyond what is currently icannavailable.

I mean, as far as I’m concerned all the .com names, at least the good ones you want, are no longer available. You can certainly get creative with your domain name, but the tricky thing to remember is to keep your domain name searchable – with a keyword that represents your business – into the name itself. So, in essence, I believe what Icann is doing is just that. However, the big, BIG, companies – much bigger than your small little start up, are snatching up all those top-level domains that were newly created.

Google and Amazon have each applied to administer dozens of new top-level domains. Some of these include .app, .book, .cloud, .game, .movie and .search.

L’Oreal is another big name that is seeking to obtain .beauty, .hair and .skin. Johnson & Johnson is wanting to obtain, you guessed it, .baby.

Donuts, Inc. is a domain registry company who filed the most applications, 307 to be exact, including .love, .family, .health and even .plumbing (WTF?) Plumbing????

With these new top-level domains becoming available in the very near future, it will certainly confuse search engines. .car or .cars? Is the search singular or plural? If you don’t type in the correct extension, you won’t get the result you want. It could also prompt companies, at a premium price, to register bunches of new brand sites to claim “squatters rights.”

Advocates of internet freedom state that such an expanded address system effectively places online control in the hands of powerful, already well established and large companies.  Ya know, it’s kinda like squeezing out the little guy (like me). This challenges the idea that the internet is “open.” Existing generic domains like .net and .com are overseen by Verisign and have an open-use policy. This means as a consumer you can buy domain names from any hosting provider you want. With a new crop of applicants though, Icann initially accepted proposals for closed or restricted generic domains, This limits competition for businesses.

suffixesLast year, there were roughly 250 million domain names globally registered on the web. Nearly half of those domains had the .com or .net suffix attached to it, according to Verisign. This an extremely profitable business, generating over $870 million dollars. Icann charged a processing fee of $185,000 per domain application, but didn’t limit the amount of submissions per company. Donuts, Inc. paid nearly $57 million to Icann for their various top-level domain names and will manage at least 149 suffixes for which no other company applied. Suffixes like .chat and .golf, which could have multiple applicants, will end up being negotiated among the prospective buyers themselves or submitted to an auction run by Icann.

Donuts plans to open all of its generic domains to public registration, each with its own pricing structure. So, to me that means public registration would be available just as it currently is through any hosting provider. But that is only if those suffixes came from Donuts, Inc.

If Icann has a suffix you want and has not been snatched up by bigger companies already, you’ll have to pay a premium price through an auction process that Icann will oversee. Which suffixes those are, we can only imagine. But, if you think BIG, it could be just about anything.

Google, as an example, plans to open certain of its new suffixes like .ads, .dad and .how to public registration, but in applications to manage other generics like .app, Google has decided they would lay out strict criteria for applicants who want it before they receive approval. With Google employing this “vetting” process for suffixes that they own and would make public on their own, Icann argues that it curbs competition. So, if you received an .app suffix from Google, it becomes somewhat a gold seal of approval from Google because you were approved through their vetting process to receive the .app suffix. What other suffixes Google will including in their vetting process has yet to be known. I would imagine at some point they’ll have it on their site somewhere.

Sounds like Google is snubbing people because…..well, they can. They’re Google.

For a little guy like myself, I may be on page one with my .com suffix, but if I decide to purchase a top-level domain name with .websitedesigner where would that lead me? I mean, I’m not just a website designer. I also do online marketing and baby sitting my clients’ websites.

Perhaps I’ll get a suffix like .babysittingclientwebsites.


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