New Domain Names Tempt Amazon, Google, Microsoft

ICANN's plan to approve new domain names sought by companies
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The Internet's latest land rush has begun. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN) on Wednesday revealed a list of proposed new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and the organizations paying $185,000 to have their proposals evaluated.

The gTLDs that survive ICANN's review process eventually will become valid domain suffixes and will take their place alongside the original gTLDs (.com, .edu., .net, .org, and .mil); subsequent gTLDs created over a decade ago (.aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .int, .museum, .name, .pro); and recent additions (.asia, .cat, .jobs, .mobi, .tel, .travel, and .xxx) as legal entities in the domain name system.

Many prominent companies are staking claims on new gTLDs to promote their brands or to establish a business to sell domain names within the new gTLDs. Organizations that see their proposals approved will be charged $25,000 annually as a gTLD registry and $0.25 per transaction, if there are over 50,000 transactions--this would be relevant only if the gTLD operator sold domain names within that gTLD. Companies also simply can keep approved gTLDs for their own use.

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ICANN said it has received 1,930 applications, 66 of which are for geographic names, and 166 of which are in non-Latin alphabets, such as Arabic, Chinese, and Cyrillic. This is the first time that non-Latin gTLDs have been evaluated for implementation in the domain name system, an event that underscores the increasing internationalization of the Internet.

At $185,000 per proposal, ICANN should collect over $357 million when all is said and done.

Companies proposing new gTLDs include AOL, Amazon, Audi, Citigroup, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart, to name only a few.

Google alone seeks recognition for over 100 new gTLDs, including .blog, .book, .cloud, .docs, .phd, and .wow. In a blog post last month, Google chief Internet evangelist Vint Cerf wrote that the gTLDs Google has applied for relate to its trademarks, its core business, the Google user experience, or domains that "have interesting and creative potential, such as .lol."

Google gTLD applications

ICANN is allowing only one entity to operate the gTLD registry for a specific domain name. For the 13 parties seeking control over the proposed .app domain--a group that doesn't include Apple--and the nine companies who want the .book domain, that means either the claims will have to be self-resolved, resolved through a community process, or settled via auction.

ICANN president and CEO Rod Beckstrom said at a press event that ICANN was committed to moving forward despite criticism because ICANN believes the measures put in place to protect trademark holders are sufficient. "We think it will unleash innovation," he said, noting that domain name prices in the gTLD registries have dropped 70% in the past 12 years.

Critics of ICANN see the new gTLDs as little more than a profit-driven scheme to force companies to spend money to protect their trademarks. In a section of its website for program feedback, an individual identifying himself as Sean Conaty says that ICANN is only doing this for profit and that the plan is bad for security and usability.

Internet privacy advocate Lauren Weinstein refers to ICANN's gTLD plan as extortion.

Let the trademark lawsuits begin.

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