Posted June 20, 2011 9:22 am by with 4 comments

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ICANN has announced that companies and organizations will have the ability to turn their brands into domain name extensions starting in 2013. Applications are being accepted starting in January of 2012. TechCrunch reports

The ICANN board has voted to approve the new gTLD program, which was first announced three years ago. The new program will significantly expand Top-Level Domains (TLDs) to allow companies, organizations and even cities to turn their own brands into domain name extensions. Think .ADIDAS, .HOTEL, .BRUSSELS, .FACEBOOK and the likes.

The chart below gives the timeline for this happening.

So while this sounds like a very cool thing, don’t think it’s going to be something that everyone is going to be able to either use or afford. In other words, this is not a situation for the little guys.

However, it’s important to note that only “established public or private organizations” will be able to apply, and the price tag for a new domain name extension is steep – unless you consider $185,000 a bargain. Nevertheless, expect lots of interest even at that price.

Applications will have to show a legitimate claim to the name they are buying – ICANN is reportedly taking on hundreds of consultants to whom it will outsource the job of evaluating such claims. In addition, gTLD owners will be expected to maintain operational sites, in an effort to minimize the risk of massive .CYBERSQUATTING.

Expect there will be attempts to game and hijack these domains even with the higher cost barrier to entry and the general rules to be applied to these domains. It’s the Internet after all so if there is something to be hijacked or ‘stolen’ there will be attempts. It actually might be fun to watch who will be the first non-brand to be clever enough to run the gauntlet and come out with a prized hostage domain on the other side.

  • The cost of even attempting to scam is high enough where I don’t expect to see a deluge problems like the days of the .com landrush. And even if some well-meaning company launched a TLD carelessly and it was overcome with domain name spam and squatting, it might suffer a worse fate than some of the most ignominious TLDs we have today? If, say, the registry behind a theoretical .shoes was dumb enough to sell domain name “”. Or even if it was careless enough to sell “” and derivations thereof wihtout a solid business plan to ensure a quality, reputable businesses was behind it. In short order, no one would think to click a .shoes domain over any other. And my bet is the Search Engines would be quick to figure out which gTLDs get brownie points and which don’t based on the effectiveness of their business model in making the user experience vis-a-vis the generic term predictable and value-added.

    Think about it – if gTLDs create another editorial layer and a screen through which content is more rigidly and accurately categorized, why WOULDN’T someone like Google like that? It’s all in the execution, though….

  • This is great but we still have to wait for a couple of years for this thing to happen. But I can’t imagine having long TLD’s since we are used in having shorter ones.

  • I think this will result in a lot of confusion for end users, since this is all so hard for the average person (aka me haha) to understand. What will happen to existing .coms and domain names? I write about it here:

  • Its great for bigger established businesses to try out since the cost is so high, and hopefully after a while the price will come down so that ordinary people may purchase a custom domain name too.