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New gTLDs – The Lowdown

Today marks the day that the internet will change forever as ICANN launches the new gTLDs.

No longer will we simply see .com, .net, .org or the 19 other current gTLDs, instead the internet world will now be flooded with the likes of .news, .cocacola, .football and .anyotherwordthatismorethan2characterslong.

To register a new gTLD will cost $185,000 and $25,000 per year, compared to $10 for a .com domain.

Costing an estimated total closer to $500,000 to set up, smaller companies and not-for-profit organisations are concerned about the cost of protecting themselves from cyber-squatters.

Last year, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and 26 other international organisations wrote to ICANN to ask for suffixes like .imf to be protected.

In December, the US Federal Trade Commission also wrote to ICANN warning that the expansion of generic top-level domains “has the potential to magnify both the abuse of the domain name system and the corresponding challenges we encounter in tracking down internet fraudsters.”

Scott Pinzon, director of marketing and outreach at ICANN, explained that the internet is notoriously hard to predict. He said: “New gTLDs represent a platform for innovation. No one can predict what smart people will do with them. Lots of new business models will be invented. Some will work. Some won’t.

“But given the fountain of innovation and public benefit that has poured from the internet over the last 20 years, sitting here in 2011 and definitively predicting the failure of new gTLDs seems short-sighted.”

Here’s a summary of the effects that the change could bring for internet business:

Advantages:

  • Increased accessibility – easier to search for sites because URLs are likely to be richer in key words and more SEO friendly.
  • Prestige – having a .brand gTLD adds a certain je ne sais quoi to a business’ brand, placing them with global players like .dell, .cocacola.
  • Increased security – .com is freely available, with around 90 million registered names, and is open to fraudsters and abuse, having a specific suffix could increase consumer trust in your site.
  • Creativity – the new suffixes could prove to be a marketer’s dream, opening the doors for enjoy.coke or visit.london.

Disadvantages:

  • Cost – the new domain names are massively expensive in comparison to .com/.org
  • Exclusion – because of the high cost, only big name brands have the budget to get the ‘edge’ that personalised gTLDs presents.
  • Confusion – having so many new gTLDs (as many as 1,000) novice internet users may find themselves out of their depth simply browsing the web
  • Search – the confusion caused by changing gTLDs could lead the public to turn to search engines more rather than typing the full web address.

How do you think the new gTLDs will change the web for online business?

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