As if the Internet isn’t big enough, the days of a .com URL could soon be over. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization responsible for managing the Internet’s domain name system, is expanding the list of acceptable domain name suffixes, so companies can register as .apple or .ibm, for example.
ICANN began accepting applications on Jan. 12 to register a new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD); registrants have through April 12 to apply. Currently there are 280 domains, such as .com for commercial sites, .edu for educational institutions, .gov for government agencies, and country codes such as .cn for China and co.uk for Great Britain. The new gTLDs will also include suffixes in non-Latin alphabets such as Arabic, Chinese, or Cyrillic.
At a cost of $185,000, I bet it’ll mostly be major consumer brands. Reuters reports that Canon, Deloitte, and Hitachi are applying for their own brand domains, and a Canadian company, Big Room, is trying to claim the .eco suffix to dole out to environmentally conscious organizations such as Greenpeace. Jacob Malthouse of Big Room told Reuters that “.eco would have the authority to certify genuine environmental organizations and individuals, allowing only them to register a .eco address, and screening out much of the ‘greenwash’ that exists.”
There’s plenty of money to be made in selling domain names — just ask Go Daddy. In fact, a UK company, Top Level Domain Holdings (TLDH), is applying for 20 domains on behalf of customers and around 50 for itself, according to Reuters. TLDH already owns the domains .nyc and .radio, so if you can’t afford to buy .cocacola and lease it to the company (evil, I know, but that’s what everyone’s worried will happen), you could always buy a few shares of TLDH’s penny stocks. Could be worth something someday.