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Over the next few years domain names are going to dramatically change. This change has been in the works for several years but only now are we getting to the pointy end of the process. Essentially what is happening is ICANN, the people who control domain names, are going to allow a whole lot more Top Level Domains (TLD). What is a TLD? Well it’s the little bit at the end of a domain name, e.g. .com, .net, .tv. ICANN are going to allow companies to administer other TLDs. For example Google could administer .google and then could use domains such as au.google instead of google.com.au or drive.google instead of drive.google.com, you get the idea.

ICANN recently released a list of TLDs from the very fist round of applications. Amongst the list are the obvious .apple, .google as well as .blog, .porn and .poker. This of course brings up a whole lot of issues, like who has the right to administer what, which is why it has taken several years to get to this point. I won’t go into details but ICANN have put policies and procedures in place that will hopefully mitigate any issues. If you do want to administer your own TLD you will need, amongst other things; A) a fair bit of cash (US$185,000 just to apply) and B) the technical knowledge and know-how.

Companies are going to be the major benefactors. If they have their own TLD they will have a lot more control over their domains. There will also be a lot more domain options available. If you have ever tried to find a .com you will know how hard it is. The majority of the ‘good ones’ are taken (a lot by squatters) which is why a lot of new sites utilise ‘alternative’ TLDs such as .ly, .co and .it. Moving forward if, for example, you own a hotel you will have a chance to get a .hotel domain.

What this means to the end consumer, in my option, is not much. With today’s ‘Google it’ culture a lot of people are still going to use a search engine to get to a site. That process is not going to change even if their destination ends up being appple.com.au or au.apple. People are going to have to get used to the fact that domains don’t have to end with a .com but with all the ‘alternative’ TLDs being used nowadays that process has already begun. At the end of the day this is not an internet game changer. Sites, and how they are put together, are not going to change, all that is going to change is how some people arrive!

Image courtesy of Torkild Retvedt

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