On January 12 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the governing body that oversees the entire world’s Internet domain names, will open the market for applications to manage new generic top-level domain (gTLD) endings such as .shop or .wine. While corporations and entrepreneurs are buzzing about the potential of this expansion, how will this affect your overall Internet experience?
While average Internet users are most familiar with .com and .org, as well as country codes like .uk, there will be a mad scramble on Thursday to grab up the domain names that speculators feel will become most popular, and thus most profitable.
A successful application will meet ICANN’s background check to determine whether the top-level domain is appropriate for the applicant, in addition to technical operation requirements since this will demand a lot of experience and know-how. Along with the $185,000 application fee, this will prevent those trying to take advantage of corporations from buying up .pepsi for example and selling it to the giant beverage producer or performing predatory practices against the brand.
However it is not so much the brand names that have everyone talking as the generics – .travel, .news, .mobile. Properly cultivated TLDs aimed at bloggers, merchandisers, entrepreneurs, shoppers, anyone really, can likely make these registries into a completely different user experience from the overly trite .com world.
The face of the new Internet
Say the owners of .shop attract a handful of popular retailers to sell at their TLD, and profits go up due to extended visibility, promotions, etc. Other retailers will want in and soon there will be shoes, clothes, books, electronics. Just like a mall, people will be able to visit all their favorite brands at one place.
While this may sound like Amazon or any other online marketplace, the distinguishing factor here is the involvement of the retailers themselves. Instead of visiting Nordstroms.com and Sharperimage.com, click zachehrlich.shop (or whatever your username is), type in your password and the entire mall is in front of you. Your credit cards are already loaded, and with a built-in search tool you can find any item you need from the retailers themselves.
Pricing, shipping and gift cards will update with the new .shop marketplace. New interbrand packages could sprout up and clearance sales will feature shirts, instead of Gap or Macy’s shirts.
I’m just speculating of course, but with new TLDs the face of the Internet can be drastically altered depending on how this plays out.
And it’s not just for shopping.
News and information, file sharing, even chatting and email could see slight adjustments.
Most importantly, this could also change Google’s role in the Internet. According to research by Search Engine Land, Google serves a staggering 2 million searches per minute for people looking for anything. It is the homepage for millions of computers. The only reason not to search is if you already know what you are looking for.
Specific TLDs can possibly challenge that model. While a Google search pulls everything on the web related to your query, TLDs are pointed and authentic. For example, you would not want to Google the new Nike Dunks when you could just go straight to the only legitimate dunks.nike website.
Will new top-level domains change the Internet or go bust due to slow adoption and Google’s dominance? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.