Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The End of .com As We Know It?

We have all seen and heard how the Internet is constantly changing.  In the not too distant future, the Internet may change again.

Remember the days of .com, .net, .gov and .org?  These "top-level domains” (TLDs) may soon have a makeover. Top-level domains are managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is run by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

In the early days, these names were reserved for specific purposes:
.com: Commercial (for-profit) websites
.net: Network-related domains
.gov:  Government
.org: Non-profit organizations

Given the growth of the Internet, the number of TLDs has become a confusing and conflicting space.  This is in no small part because these names are open for registration and can be used by anyone who can purchase the naming structure.  In the not too distant past, other names have been added (i.e. .biz, .info) to help alleviate the problem of limited domain names. The .com TLD is by far the most popular top-level domain, with nearly 50 percent of the websites Google visits hitting a website with the .com extension.  This has presented a serious challenge for those companies and organizations wanting to use .com.

From January to May 2012, ICANN allowed corporations to apply for new top-level domains. Companies took advantage of this and chose to apply for many different naming structures that would help their business model and the customers they serve.  For example, Google applied for domains such as .google, .lol, .youtube, and .docs. Many companies like McDonalds and Apple applied for domains matching their company name, such as .mcdonalds and .apple. Many companies also grabbed generic names such as .pizza, .security, and .download.

As these changes are approved, their implementation will begin as early as 2013. This will help companies and consumers alike as they rely on the web for information and sales. For example, instead of entering www.Apple.com/iPod-touch/ to find information on iPod touches, it might be possible to type iPod.Apple to get the same information.  It boggles the imagination to think how companies and consumers will be able to target new information and navigation with these changes.

This does not mean the days of .com are over because other companies will keep their .com presence on the web. Whatever comes about, the Internet remains the most robust and vibrant environment for companies and consumers to provide and access information.

For those interested, just ctrl+click below to see a list of the applications applied for.

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