Sex, Lies and Domain Names

domainsThe Internet naming system is about to get the biggest shakeup it’s had in 10 years.

By the end of the year, not only will you be seeing domain names ending in .com and .org, but you also may be seeing names ending in .shop, .ibm, and .sex.

Yokohama Drama
On July 16, a new era for Internet naming started in Yokohama, Japan. At a meeting of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the decision was made to expand the domain name system to include new top level suffixes.

This is the biggest change in 10 years to the Internet naming system. ICANN, a private corporation in charge of determining future plans for domain naming, is taking applications for new top-level domains. Applications will be reviewed by ICANN to determine how the new name will benefit the Internet community, and to make sure each company applying will be able to handle the new domain registrations without disrupting the existing naming system.

“Expert” Commentary
Since the announcement, much of the commentary has focused on the idea that expanding the top-level domain name system will make it easier for people to get a good domain name. For example, MIT Internet authority Esther Dyson says “This will remove much of the artificial scarcity on the Web right now.”

Other experts say that this will cause an explosion in the number of top level domains, making it possible to get domain names dirt cheap. Some think this will fuel another explosion of growth in the Internet.

My View
The new domain names won’t make a big difference for most companies anytime soon. The decisions made at Yokohama were made by a corporation that, by and large, represents the interests of large Internet domain registrars.

The application cost, which is $50,000, will keep anyone but very large companies from applying. The companies likely to apply are companies like AOL and Microsoft, and the larger Internet domain name registrars.

For most individuals and companies, the changes will bring confusion and possibly additional costs.

There are three main arguments for the creation of new top-level domains:

  1. All the available .com real estate has been taken.
  2. The .net and .org domains have no commercial value because they are unmemorable.
  3. Increased competition in the domain name business will lower the costs for everyone.

Let’s take a look at these arguments and why they are wrong.