In some earlier articles, (ICANN Approves Brand Name Suffixes and IAB Opposes Brand Domains) we’ve discussed the then approaching launch of generic top level domains, and some of the issues around them.
Now, the day has come, and as of yesterday, ICANN began accepting applications for top level domains with custom suffixes, instead of the now familiar .com or any of the country-level domains.
Biggest Change To Internet Addressing
Along with the inclusion of the non-latin characters for web addresses, this may well be the most significant change that the internet addressing system has undergone since the creation of the first .com domain in 1985.
ICANN relates several reasons behind the decision, among which are the crowded nature of the .com space, and the specificity of the other available TLDs, such as .biz, .org and .info. This also, they say, gives companies the opportunity to use its own name or trademark as the domain level.
Criticism Of GTLD’s
There has also been some criticism levelled at the move, as you can see from one of the articles linked to above. On the one hand, this opens a potential new realm for cybersquatters, (for which ICANN has put several security measures in place) but on the other, the extreme cost of registering a gTLD (which is not as simple as registering a normal domain) could limit the opportunities even for legitimate business.
Applying for a gTLD carries an application fee of $185,000 as a base cost, (additional costs may apply depending on the process), and a yearly renewal fee of $25,000. These domains will also be limited to 1,000 per year, and the application process is only open for 3 months.
Because each application may take up to 20 months to process, we’re not going to be seeing these domains until at least mid 2013. The application also involves considerable obligation on the side of the registrant…you’ll have to prove you can afford to keep the domain running for at least 3 years, and you’ll be held responsible for the domain as if you were a domain registration service yourself.
You also run the risk of being refused in your application of course.
Is It Worth It?
I don’t know. On the face of it, for most businesses probably not. (Keeping an eye on the process and the accepted applicants is still a good idea, in case somebody tries to use your intellectual property. If it does happen, you can lodge a complaint for investigation of course.)
If you can afford the registration fee, and the yearly renewals for at least 3 years, and have always dreamed of owning your own top level domain, you can go for it. Most value in the future (as a registrant) is probably going to come from selling domains within your TLD.