The coming gTLD explosion (or not)

ICANN, the folks who manage Internet domains, recently decided to open up the generic top-level domain (gTLD) space to anyone who can afford it and can navigate ICANN’s complex approval process.

gTLDs are those domains to the right of the dot in the URL, such as .com and .biz. Currently there are 21 gTLDs. But going forward, there is no limit to the number of gTLDs that can be registered. A company could register one, a city could register one, even an individual.

The media are predicting a bewildering array of new gTLDs in the months ahead.

But I’m not so sure we’ll see such a domain land rush. For starters, the process and costs of getting approval for a new gTLD are going to eliminate only the most passionate (and well-funded) supporters.

In the near future, I do see domains such as .berlin (and other cities) and .sport (and other topical words) emerging.

The big question will be to what extent the corporate world participates in registering gTLDs. Will we see a .coke or .pepsi or .google emerge? Odds are pretty good that we’ll see a .google simply because Google can actually manage its domain fairly well. As for Coke or Pepsi, I’m not so sure. Which leads us to the need for third-party domain service providers who could help companies like Coke and Pepsi register and manage their gTLDs. I sense a nice business opportunity ahead.

The larger issue to emerge out of the recent ICANN meeting is the coming of IDNs, such as domain names in Cyrillic and Chinese. When the leaders of both China and Russia clamor for their own native-language URLs, you can be sure that they will become a reality. This too will be a messy process, but it is safe to see we will see non-Latin URLs in 2009.

Here are two articles that provide a good analysis of ICANN’s recent announcements: InformationWeek and CircleID.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

4 thoughts on “The coming gTLD explosion (or not)”

  1. There is already a land rush for IDNs driven mostly by speculation and led by domainers more than final users. And those domains are not even full IDNs, only the second level+ was already adapated into non-Roman characters. Wait until full IDNs become available to really see the change. Russian President has been pushing tremendously for this to happen, so they might as well become the first country with full IDN’s and geo located. Nice!

    There is lots of resistance in the ASCII community to acknowledge the way these changes are going to impact their investment. Not to mention the combined Trillions of dollars that have been spent in the development & marketing of these domains in the 40+ years of Internet existence.

    While there is going to be an increase in use for full IDNs like Cyrillic, the cost of main gTLDs will go up because of the speculation. .com, .net and .org will hit higher prices.

    For branding purposes, “some” companies will benefit with the the new plan to be implemented in late 2009. This process will have to be carefully thought out, because possible impacts in their brand extension. It may take time until the company-based TLDs really get positioned in the consumers minds. Having an .ebay or .google will alter the way TLDs are seen in the corporate world. Same with city-based Top Domain Levels. .paris, .ldn, .nyc are firm candidates.

    Interesting changes are happening!

    Regards,

    Augusto

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