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Reveal Day is today, and, not surprisingly, much was revealed today. In particular, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced not only some of the new top-level domain names, but also which companies applied for them. By as early as the start of next year, a host of new top-level domain names – like .app, .news, .music, and .movie – will join the ubiquitous .com at the end of URLs. We have all grown accustomed to writing “.com” at the end of URLs (and occasionally “.net” and “.org”), but once these new TLDs (as “top-level domains” are often called) are brought online by ICANN, the average users’ Internet experience may become more complicated.
The companies applying for these new domains are large, or at least they have large budgets, because it costs $185,000 to do so. Why would a company even want to apply for (and spend so much money trying to secure) a TLD? Given that this whole process is in its infancy, it is not entirely clear what all the uses for TLDs might be, but at least a couple of possibilities come to mind.
Perhaps most obviously, a new TLD might be used for marketing purposes. While many companies applied for brand-specific TLDs – for example, Ford Motor Company applied for .ford and .lincoln – many companies applied for generic TLDs, like .hotel and .food, as well as more unsavory endings like .sex, .porn, and similar such things. (Many companies applied for the same TLD – .app was particularly popular, with 13 applicants vying for it – and if they can’t decide the matter themselves, ICANN will for them by following a set of procedures laid out in the official Applicant Guidebook.) URLs like McDonalds.food or Ford.car have a nice ring, and it faintly implies that these companies have some sort of special authority in their given industry. (For the record, both these URLs are made up, and neither company actually applied for these TLDs.)
Companies might also use a new TLD for security purposes. On any site you enter a password, there is the risk of entering it into an illegitimate site that is mimicking a legitimate site. The scammer site could then use your log-in information for nefarious purposes. However, the new TLDs could potentially limit this practice because, say, a financial institution could instruct their clients to only use the site that has their name at the end of the URL.
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Again, though, this is all new, and it is hard to say exactly what companies have in mind as they apply for these TLDs. Clearly, though, many companies do have uses in mind, especially large Internet companies like Google and Amazon. These companies are seeking 101 and 76 TLDs, respectively. Both Internet giants applied for brand-specific names – with Google applying for TLDs like .youtube and Amazon applying for TLDs like .kindle – but they seek generic TLDs as well. Google is going after .search and Amazon is applying for .video, for example.
Whether the introduction of the new top-level domain names is a good thing is matter of opinion, but we do know that the simple .com days will soon be over.
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