Yesterday, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) unveiled a list of possible new top-level domains (TLD). These are generic TLDs (gTLD) being applied for by various companies and individuals worldwide. As the governing body for TLDs like the universal .com, .gov and .org, ICANN will evaluate each application for approval.
By 2013, domain extensions like .art, .pizza, .hotel and even .通用电气公司 (yes, a non-Latin character) would be valid web addresses. Who knows how this would affect website SEO? gTLD names like .app and .inc are among the most requested. Giant brands seem to be taking this opportunity to secure their own territory as well, such as .gap and .chevrolet.
Introducing these new top-level domains should create more choices for webmasters, granted only 22 gTLDs are available at the moment. However, some groups oppose this massive unleashing of TLDs because it might create confusion to users. Granting ownership of common words like .love and .shop to a single entity could send domain registration prices through the roof. Unlike now, where a .com can be served by different competing domain registrants (lowering the price). To add to that, companies might be forced to register their own brand for the sake of owning it.
And this entire movement doesn’t come cheap. Each TLD application costs $185,000 and there’s a $25,000 annual fee on top of that. Google seems to know what it’s doing – it has applied for 101 gTLDs. But really dominating the game seems to be donuts.co – applying for a total of 307 top-level domains under different company names.
In any case, anybody who wishes to oppose a claim may contact ICANN directly. A 60-day comment period was opened together with the announcement. The world may send their rants, after which there will be a 7-month period for filing formal objections.