The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) made a decision in June, to extend the number of domain name endings from the 20 or so currently in existence, to an unlimited number. What this means is that anyone wanting to register a domain name will soon have substantially more choice, and will no longer be limited to the likes of the standard '.com', '.co.uk' or '.net' suffixes.
There has been a great deal of conversation and debate over the proposal, with some thinking it's a great idea and others more than a little worried about what this could mean for their businesses and the wider Internet.
Apparently, it will cost in the region of £114,000 to apply for a new suffix and companies would need to show that they have a legitimate claim to the name that they are intent on buying. I hope that the cost, as well as the application process, is sufficient enough to stop a new type of domain squatting.
It will also be interesting to find out exactly how these new age domain names will be viewed by search engines. I'd hope that they will place little value on such TLDs, partly because these TLDs aren't affordable for the majority of companies. Were they to place more value on them, the SERPs would fall further short of being a 'level playing field' and small businesses would struggle to keep up/compete with the larger organisations.
I think one of the interesting points which will emerge from this development will be the new naming convention which is sure to arise. For example, if Apple, Inc was to signup to the service and buy the '.apple' domain suffix, they may split their web presence across distinct categories, ie., 'imac.apple' and 'iphone.apple'. If this was the case, what would be their main domain? Apple.apple maybe? Hmmmm…I'm not sure!
Anyway, applications will start on 12 January 2012 and I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open to see exactly which route the companies will go down.