Tuesday, July 5, 2011
In Case You Missed It: New Top Level Domains
by Rachel Lim, PBS Station Products & Innovation
Move aside, dot-com, and make room for .movies, .internet and .music. In a historic decision, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted to introduce new top-level domain names to supplement already existing ones such as .com, .net and .org. (There are 22 generic top-level domains and around 250 domains for specific countries.) This decision has opened the floodgates to allow everyone from large corporations to city governments to apply for their own domain name: some of the entities that are reportedly applying for a top-level domain name include cities like .paris and .nyc and brands such as .canon and .pepsi.
ICANN also announced that domain names can now be registered in alphabets beyond the traditional ASCII characters we see in English. This move seems to be a nod to the globalized nature of the internet, and it will be interesting to see the implications of Chinese or Arabic alphabet url names on a World Wide Web that has traditionally been dominated by the English alphabet.
Experts are already predicting that the change will spawn battles over the most coveted domain names: for example, who will lay claim to .phone or .games? And search engines like Google may have to adjust their search functions to adequately prioritize .brand domain sites.
While some are predicting that the announcement will dramatically alter internet brand management, others are skeptical. The $185,000 application fee -- and the $25,000 yearly fee to maintain a top-level domain -- make these vanity labels prohibitively costly to everyone except the largest entities. And some experts are questioning if the brand recognition of "search.google" will be more powerful than, say, "google.com." Regardless, the ICANN expects the registration process for new top-level domains to take a couple years at the earliest, so it will still be a few years before we begin to type watch.pbs into our address bar.
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