ICANN new gTLD system will brandize the internet

I’ve yet to comment on ICANN’s new plan for the internet’s so called “top level domain names” (.com, .net, etc’), and I think a very important future aspect of it was overlooked by most critics.

ICANN are planning to open up the process for adding new top level domains1 to the point where anyone can request to register new top level domains – even in a non-latin script.

Many commenters agree that implementing this suggestion would cause an explosion in the available and used top level domains, and as a result also the number of actual domains registered, which can also be a bad thing – for example, domains named after common file extensions (Firefox.exe anyone?), for specific fringe interest groups or a top level domain per city (The .nyc domain for New York City seems to be the most coordinated).

But worse are the implications of the new plan for brand names. As an Australian developer news site noted, the implications for brand managers are enormous: simply using “domain hacks” with some randomly looking TLDs can be a real headache for large corporations: the .LA domain for Los Angeles can offer coca-co.la for the quick entrepreneur, or maybe www.dis.ney.

But I don’t think this the worst problem. What I think will happen is that large corporations with large pockets will go and buy their own top level domain names and just have that as their web address! what will prevent Sony from buying the .sony TLD and have www.sony as their web address or maybe even simply http://sony/ (and http://ps3.sony, http://music.sony, etc).

I don’t think there is a single corporation that wouldn’t jump at the option to do this, and we will end up with something far worse then a messy and non-hierarchical naming2 – a web where most top level domains are brand names of global corporations.

  1. following the previous expansion of list of generic top level domains where 7 new top level domains were introduced []
  2. something that alternative DNS roots have been trying to do for years []

4 Responses to “ICANN new gTLD system will brandize the internet”

  1. Arik:

    How exactly is that different than what is happening today?

    You have http://brand.com or http://www.brand.com today, and you’ll have only http://www.brand and http://brand if this scheme works through… I don’t see how it will be either better or worse than today.

    The only disadvantage I can see is someone registering the intranet TLD and messing up people who think they’re going to their corporate intranet, your .exe example etc. Like command.com wasn’t bad enough.

    I wonder how much it will cost.

    — Arik

  2. Guss:

    Except for the obvious intranet related issues, I have two problems with this:
    1. That its messy – its like on Windows where once software installed itself anywhich where it wanted, like c:\stuff, c:\more-stuff and you ended up with tons of junk on your c: drive and now everything is tucked aways in neat directories. gTLDs work the same by letting people experience stuff in an orderly fashion.
    2. I have a problem with this capability only available for big corporations that can invest the money in taking out parts of the global namespace and reserving it for themselves. Registering a new gTLD would cost something like $100,000 and registrants will not be required to provide “non-sponsored” domain registrations (which means – they will be required to allow registrations of domains under their new gTLD, but they aren’t required to have this done in a non-discriminatory manner. So for example Sony will need to allow registrations under their “sony” gTLD, but they can allow this only for Sony subsidiaries).

  3. Eran:

    Except the mess, which is ICANN’s mess or maybe a portal’s mess but not mine, I don’t see a real problem.
    It, maybe, is the same problem as cybersquatting but there are still ways to resolve this. With peaceful means (Like Blizzard and diablo3.com) or less peaceful ways but it’s resolvable still the same.
    Yeah, maybe the registration under the TLD thing is still a bug but everything have bugs and bugs can be fixed, by the engineer or by the client, in many ways.

    The general idea is this: it’s a technological opening and like every one of those, we should see how it plays out and try and stir it for the best and not for the worst even though it has potential for both.

  4. Guss:

    I don’t follow the “peaceful means” argument.

    That being said, there is plenty of abuse of domain space on the network today – the number of junk domains (a domain where you only get a single page with lists of ads for spam sites, viagra and travel agencies – I have no idea why, but they always have travel agencies) is incredible – it may be more then the number of valid domains. The way these things work is that no one is actually paying for these – a spam operation registers tens of thousands of these daily, and unregistered them 3 days later, so they get a full refund. Then they do it again.

    Adding grab-a-TLD type of registration will not only increase this behavior a thousand times over, it will allow the creation of junk TLDs whose sole purpose is to generate spam domains. You can say that you don’t care because you normally don’t visit these sites, but it does affect you – more junk domains means more junk on your search engines as they have harder times distinguishing between this and real sites, it means more blog spamming to advertise this junk, it probably means more email spam and so on and so forth.

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