Starting in January 2012, the Internet Committee for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) is opening its doors to applications for a whole new class of domain names. That means that besides the .com, .net, and .uk suffixes we are used to, we will soon start seeing generic top level domains (gTLDs) such as .food or .bank.
Those interested can choose to run one and either have it solely for themselves, or sell domains within its category. .frenchfries, for example, could sell domains to burger joints.
Icann has said that the suffixes do not need to be Roman letters, they could also for example be in Chinese characters.
However, there are a few rules, first among them being that they must have at least three letters. This is because Icann is holding onto any two-letter domains left in the event that a new country is created.
This news also means that companies can purchase their own gTLD for the first time. This may mean that in coming years, the prevalence of .com makes way for brand-name domains such as .pepsi or .mcdonalds.
Many are saying that the move is too soon for big companies to be prepared for what will be the future of their online business, and some business are likely to be left behind.
The application period, which starts on 12 January 2012, closes just three months later on 12 April.
Though this represents a huge opportunity for investment in online “real estate,” the costs may surprise you. Applying starts at $185,000 and the fees continue from there.
“Your corner mom and pop shop, this is not right for them,” said Melbourne IT DBS’s Tim Callan.
“A good estimate is it will cost between $150,000 – $200,000 a year to run [a gTLD]. So costly yes, compared to your and my wallets, but for the companies we’re talking about – trivial.”
Callan said that anyone from whom this is a serious business prospect will not feel the pinch at the bank.
When bidding closes on April 12, Icann is set to decide who has valid bids. If more than one bid qualifies for the same name, Icann has checklist of criteria concerning who wins. For real words, open communities will win the domains over private ones.