Diversification of Domain Suffixes

Icann (Internet committee for Assigned Names & Numbers) is the organisation who manages the use of internet domains.  They announced this autumn that they were extending the suffixes from January 2012 beyond the existing 22 including .com, .net, .uk.

Applications for new domains will be open for a limited period of three months, closing on the 12 April 2012.  Keeping to the deadline will be critical, as the next opportunity will not come round again until 2015 ‘[Companies] have to be prepping, and they have to be getting ready and figuring out what they’re doing so they’re ready’ said Tim Callan, chief marketing officer of domain experts Melbourne IT DBS.

There are concerns that many businesses will be left behind, with little time to assess and make a full case, particularly in the case of the big brands.  Large organisations are not known for being rapid movers or decision makers. Many businesses have been put off by the cost, which run between £150,000 and £200,000 a year– trivial for the big brands, but substantial for SMEs.

This raises the question as to what is to be gained by purchasing a dot brand. Trademark is a strong motive particularly for consumer brands seeking to beat competitors and cyber squatters.  Callan believed search engines will be attracted to companies connecting online traffic and offline through short, memorable website names like laptop.dell.  It would also be a seal of authenticity, making it easier to for internet users to differentiate official brand channels online.

But with these advantages, also comes serious concerns of a new brand divide between those huge brands who can afford the new domain opportunities and those who cannot.  A new brand ranking system is likely to arise and will highlight a significant barrier to entry for many smaller businesses.  After all, no business would want to see their brand classed as a second rate.

For now, the dot com is thought to be safe, but Callan believes that within a century, its days are likely to be numbered. However, Simon Briskman of Field Fisher Waterhouse concluded the situation well

‘It’s just not possible for everyone to get the names that they want in the new dot come space. If you want a good presence, but maybe not the best presence, if you want someone else to run the infrastructure, you’ll porbably use dot comes.  They’ll happily co-exist I just don’t think they’ll have the same power that the dot brand does.’

A year long application process, the first set of new domains will be live by early 2013.

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