On June 20, 2011, the approval of the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) program by ICANN shook the online world.
The new program makes it easier for a company or organisation to apply for and receive a new domain extension.
It has caused a major reaction throughout the web, as it will bring thousands of new extensions to a domain space currently with 303 total extensions including only 22 gTLDs.
It also allows for many TLD possibilities that would have been harder if not impossible to get before: brands such as .coke, locations such as .tokyo, and generic keywords such as .shop. Many approved extensions will operate similar to .com and offer public registration of domains.
Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation is circulating. The primary reason for this is that most journalists covering the story lack sufficient knowledge of the domain industry. This results in them speculating on what they don’t have the foundation to understand.
Let’s delve into 10 myths and misconceptions about the new TLDs.
1. None of this has ever been possible before.
This approval means a vastly more open process for starting a new TLD—allowing for .brand which previously couldn’t have been applied for. However, there have been new TLDs launched almost annually. Examples are .info, .name, .mobi, .travel, .jobs and .xxx.
2. Anyone can now have their own extension.
It will cost $185,000 to apply for an extension and an additional $25,000 per year to keep it active among other costs. Costs for a company offering public registration of domains will shoot to well over a million dollars for infrastructure. Could your business afford that?
3. The new top-level domains will quickly take over the web.
If this happens, it certainly won’t be “quickly.” The earliest new extensions won’t be approved until 2013. Additionally, it takes ubiquitous adoption for a new extension to possibly dethrone the big 3 and thus far, none have been able to do it.
4. There will be .anything.
Some articles have noted security issues with extensions like .1 and .localdomain, which could conflict with how some routers and servers operate. ICANN is a tech-based organisation and goes through an extensive approval process—they will notice and stop any such issues.
5. There will be .everything.
While the approval opens the space for potentially limitless extensions, ICANNanticipates “between 300 to 1000″ new extensions created per year, and in the initial round next year, they will only be accepting 500 applications. There may be significantly more TLDs coming to the web, but not everything.”
6. If you apply, that new extension is as good as yours.
CircleID recently reported on a supposed cut-and-paste application for new TLDs and eviscerated its likely effectiveness. Aside from having to be an established entity making a serious proposal, applicants may face competition from other applicants as well. Many city name TLDs for instance could have multiple applications from similarly-named cities.
7. The new supply of domains will spark a new gold rush.
New extensions in recent years haven’t given out their gold for nothing. They have withheld the best domains and auctioned them off during the land rush period and/or later to help boost the extension and line their pockets. It took a lot more than a pick and a shovel to get premium .co domains.
8. Speculators will gobble up all premium extensions.
Prohibitive fees and limited amount of applications aside, it’s important to note that ICANN expects new TLDs to be operational within a year of approval. Since extensions can’t idly sit by, cases of applicants making faux propositions to grab hold of premium extensions likely won’t happen.
9. Domains of new generic TLDs will outduel established TLDs in SEO.
.com, .net and .org being more established and mainstream than newer extensions has always given them an SEO benefit. Domains in new TLDs will struggle to overcome that massive age and authority difference unless Google decides to change their domain algorithms.
10. New generic TLDs will look more official to visitors.
The music industry has this gripe over .music, fearing that piracy sites can appear more official. New TLDs however are not established and would not be seen as authoritative or official. Additionally, registries of new TLDs will likely follow suit with Verisign’s adherence to court-ordered takedown requests of these sites.
Many articles on the new TLD process proclaim that many revolutionary things will happen. However, history has shown that new extensions have thus far not revolutionised the domain space.
There’s indeed a chance that a few extensions could achieve success like .co or better. However, the majority of them will turn out to be underwhelming for the applicant and not worth the money spent. Similarly, domains registered in many of these extensions will follow the same pattern.
The public’s comfort and establishment with .com has not changed since the dawn and rise of the internet. The limited scope and prohibitive nature of this TLD expansion will stifle its ability to bring about that change.