Kelly Salter, our Domain Product Specialist outlines the significant changes coming to the internet in 2013 and what this means for the business community…
2013 is going to bring about one of the biggest changes the internet has ever seen and most online businesses and internet users don’t even know what is on the horizon.
ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is set to proceed with the introduction of a wave of new ‘generic top level domain’ extensions in the coming months.
Most businesses in Ireland use either a .ie or .com domain name for their website or email address and people can purchase these extensions very inexpensively by registering with a domain registrar such as ourselves. This is now set to change drastically.
In early 2012, ICANN allowed companies to apply for their own domain name extension, in the premise that this would increase choice and competition on the internet. Many companies paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ICANN in order to bid for specific gTLD’s, however, because the organisation received 1,930 applications – nearly double the number they expected, they took the decision to hold a ‘priority lottery’ in Los Angeles on December 17th 2012 to help determine which domains will be first to market. Any of these new domain name endings that wanted to be launched into the Internet first had to pay $100 to ICANN in order to receive a lottery ticket, meaning that a lot of money was wasted on the process, with no guarantee of success.
Some of the new domain extensions to gain first mover advantage, include .catholic, written in Chinese, which was the initial gTLD to be drawn in the lottery. Amazon secured the coveted number 2 slot with .store in Japanese and this is likely to upset Google as they only managed to get slot 34 with .everyone, also written in Japanese. Although the first big commercial extension drawn was .play by Amazon, it’s been applied for by 4 parties including Google, so it can be expected that difficult negotiations and big money will change hands as this prime extension now has a prime release slot. Others drawn include .lol which is owned by Google and .store by Amazon. The .irish domain, applied for by Irish real estate entrepreneur John Toland, was in position 1,491 in the lottery, so it is likely to be 2014 before domain names ending in .irish will be available to purchase.
The process has not been without its controversies. In November, ICANN received 270 warnings from the Government Advisory Committee voicing their concerns over some of the potential domain name endings such as .bible .green and .islam. With applications such as .home already reportedly having changed hands and applicants not being held legally accountable to what was written in their application, it is expected we are yet to see a few more twists and turns.
So what does this mean for the business community, in particular SME’s in 2013 and beyond?
Established online businesses need to be aware of what is happening and pay particular attention to the new extensions that are relevant to them as a business, so a competitor doesn’t secure them.
We don’t envisage mass migrations in the short term from established businesses onto new domain extensions, but future behaviour will be driven by other factors such as how the search engines will treat these new extensions. With Google applying for 101 new domain name extensions, we will be watching and waiting and the savvy businesses will have secured their relevant extensions so they can react if needed.
New entrants to the online world will have more choice and will be able to get some really good short, relevant domain names, if i was setting up a business with a customer base in Dublin, I would definitely be looking to see what was available in .irish.
At Register365 we are hopeful that smaller businesses being hit hard by the economic downturn will get a real boost by accessing loads of great new web addresses that were previously locked away. But we are also concerned this could the beginning of the end of the free and open Internet as we know it today. Small businesses already have to work hard to compete with giants online without now facing the prospect of many of these new domain opportunities being locked away into an exclusive private namespace controlled by elite superbrands.
ICANN have said they aim to launch 1,000 domains in the first 12 months following the ICANN meeting in Beijing 7-11 April 2013, so we may expect to see the first of these new extensions ahead of summer 2013. Because of the unpredictable nature of this process and the many twists and turns it has taken to reach this point, we’ll be watching carefully to see how this affects our customers and the entire online business community at large.