A View from Christopher Mims
Here comes .Nike
.Com is so 20th century. The brave new world of domain names will be dominated by everything from .Gucci to .NYC
The international body tasked with creating new “top-level domains” – that is, .com, .org and the country TLDs such as .uk – is about to open the floodgates to a plethora of new domains that will radically expand the territory available to anyone wanting to put up a website and at the same time potentially allow corporations a level of control over entire domains that was never before possible.
Already, IBM has announced plans to apply for .IBM. Canon will be applying for .Canon and Unicef, .Unicef. Getting your own TLD isn’t as easy as registering a domain under existing domains, and could cost an organization hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as well as the headache of getting approval from ICANN, the international body that manages TLDs.
The power that comes with owning a TLD could be tremendous. Corporations could offer sub-domains and internet services – imagine your email being firstname.lastname@example.org, say. Consumers are bound to be confused at least initially by the new construction, but it ultimately could lead to a simplification: instead of trying to figure out how to contact the owner of a domain, it would be a safe bet that you could always reach them at mail.website.TLD, for example.
Not everyone is enthused about this development - Japan Network Information Center, “which provides allocation and registration services of IP addresses and AS numbers in Japan” for example, thinks that .brand TLDs would be a mis-interpretation of ICANN’s new rules.
But an interview with the founder of the new DotBrand solutions indicates these TLDs are coming no matter what:
Crawford uses plenty of margin for error when predicting how many .brands will be applied for.
“Hundreds,” he says.
The cost of getting a .brand will vary widely. Some companies may get their .brand and just forward it to their existing web site for a few years until they decide how they want to use it. In that case it will probably cost them a few hundred thousand dollars for the first year including ICANN fees.
That doesn’t mean that getting a .brand TLD will be a quick process, however. ICANN is built on a “multi-stakeholder” process, and already companies are cropping up to hold corporations’ hands as they try to navigate the process, such as Minds+Machines.
Another area that will be hot are geographic TLDs. Here’s former mayor of NYC Ed Koch throwing his support behind the DotNYC domain. I mean, who wouldn’t want a domain at that destination? Clearly, it’s where the Internet’s cool kids will be hanging out: