The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit group which controls the internet domain name system, has approved the changes today at a conference in Singapore, which will see hundreds of new domain endings, such as .google or .NYC (for website pertaining to New York City).
ICANN has today announced its final guidelines on a new host of web addresses which will allow companies to purchase URLs ending in their brand name. For example the clothing company Gap could buy the ending ‘.gap’ instead of ‘www.gap.com’.
The issue of buying a relevant web address has become one of frustration for both individuals and companies alike, which, coming later to the web party than the early adopters, have found that they can not buy the web URL of choice. It has often already been taken by someone else – who they then have to pay high sums of money to in order to reclaim themselves online. Such ‘cyber squatters’ will regularly not give up their internet spot and cannot be easily contacted.
Web experts have said that ICANN’s proposals, to essentially open up a new online market-place, where new address are available for those brands and individual who have lost their identity online in the first and second wave of the web, could be significant.
For instance, the fact that even Apple does not own iPad.com but could now potentially own all websites ending in .Apple, should its submission be successful, is something the technology titan is expected to at least consider.
There are currently 22 generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), as well as about 250 country-level domain names such as .uk.
However under the new proposals, there will be several hundred new gTLDs.
“Icann has opened the internet’s addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination,” said Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive officer for Icann.
“No one can predict where this historic decision will take us.”
Theo Hnarakis, chief executive of Melbourne IT DBS, a digital branding consultancy which advises companies on such matters, argues that brands need to take this opportunity seriously.
“The application process will only be open for 60 days. After that, the process will be closed for another three years so companies need to think about this hard and fast.”
Hnarakis told The Telegraph that companies who were serious about their brand being digitally represented needed to consider the option as it is important for businesses to be trusted and easily findable online.
“These new domain names represent an amazing opportunity for companies to really stamp their brand online, instead of having to take on URLs which don’t have their exact brand title in. It’s an issue of trust online and this could be a good way for some companies to reclaim their brand.”
Canon, Hitachi and UNICEF have all said that they plan to apply for their respective brand URL endings.
The application process will cost $185,000, regardless of success rate and opens on January 12 2012.