October 07, 2013
Move over dot-com and dot-org – Internet domain names are “dot-growing.”
Nearly 2,000 new letter, character or word combinations that form the top-level domains to the right of the period, or “dot,” of an Internet address are being scrutinized for approval by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Today, there are only 22 approved domain names, including .com, .org, .gov and .edu, all of which are familiar to Internet users. That number is set to mushroom in the coming months, bringing potential benefits for Internet marketers, online retailers and other Web-related businesses.
ICANN received 1,930 applications for generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, including more than 900 from North America and almost 700 from Europe, according to its website. The names don’t come cheap; the application fee was $185,000.
Through a subsidiary, Google applied for dozens of gTLDs, including “.android,” “.lol,” “.web,” “.app,” “.hangout,” “.dad,” “.cloud” and “.love.” Meanwhile, Apple wanted simply “.apple” and Walmart sought “.grocery,” “.samsclub” and “.walmart,” among others.
It’s not just tech and retail giants applying for new top-level domains. Military contractor Adrienne McAdory told The Washington Post in August 2013 that her application for “.wed” had been approved. McAdory said she plans to sell use of her new top-level domain to engaged couples for temporary inclusion in their wedding-related websites.
The domain name system is intended to make the Internet easier to navigate for humans. Letters are used in place of the long series of numbers – the Internet Protocol (IP) address – that allows computers to identify other devices.
The not-for-profit ICANN, which uses the top-level domain of .org on its website, says that software and other computer systems that determine what is allowed as a valid domain name “are artificially constraining the growth and utility of the Internet.” The California-based organization, which was founded in 1998, says it wants to bring more diversity and innovation to cyberspace.
However, the Federal Trade Commission and other critics have warned that rapid expansion of top-level domain names could lead to illegal activity ranging from financial fraud to trademark
This isn’t the first expansion of domain names.
According to the Post article, a Massachusetts computer manufacturer registered the first dot-com in 1985: Symbolics.com. By century’s end, there were still just a handful of top-level domain names. A new round of domains was added in 2001, including those longer than three letters, such as .museum and .info. Non-Latin scripts, known as internationalized domain names, were added in 2010.
Sites using the new gTLDs could begin appearing online by the end of this year. However, they will not include dotless domain names, such as “search,” which was requested by Google. ICAAN recently adopted a resolution prohibiting dotless domains, citing “security and stability risks.”