ICANN, the non-profit organisation responsible for controlling the Internet address system, has released the names of everyone who has applied for new domains, which have become available as part of a program designed to increase competition online.
ICANN writes that, although there are currently hundreds of country-specific domains being used, there are just 22 “generics” in operation, such as .com or .org.
This is changing now, as ICANN called for applications for new domains earlier this year. Reuters describes the initiative as a push to “break the near-monopoly of the .com top-level domain.”
When the chance to apply closed at the end of May, a total of 1,930 applications had been received. ICANN has now released the names of the bidders, which include several new organisations. As Poynter reports, the Guardian, the BBC, HBO and FOX are just some of the media companies that have applied for the new domains.
With applications costing $185,000 dollars a piece, plus additional running costs, this represents a serious investment, particularly for those organisations that have gone after several new suffixes. The Guardian has applied for .gdn .guardian .guardianmedia .observer and .theguardian – a total spend of $925,000 not including running expenses.
It may be that the money is spent in vain. Reuters notes, “previous small-scale experiments in liberalizing domains led to low take-up of suffixes such as .museum, .jobs and .travel.”
Mathew Ingram at GigaOm complains “What the ICANN decision feels like to some is a gigantic land grab by domain registrars who have gotten tired of fighting over a few remaining .com and .org names.”
He also laments “some companies will have to spend a lot of time and effort snapping up all the variations on their corporate name, their product names, and anything else that might be associated with their business. That’s going to put a lot of cash not just in domain registrars’ pockets, but also in the pockets of cyber-squatters.”
But Nieman Lab notes that the ownership of a new domain might offer a new revenue stream for the Boston Globe, which, with the endorsement of the City of Boston, has applied for the domain .boston. If the bid is successful, the Globe will have to pay the company OpenRegistry to operate the domain, but it still stands to make money through selling .boston addresses to other clients.
Nieman Lab quotes Jeff Moriarty, digital products vice president at the Globe, who says, “it’s obviously important for a business like ours to look for new opportunities and new ways to serve the community and businesses... This is an opportunity to represent both.”
In an article for ReadWriteWeb, Dan Rowinski writes, “the newspaper has always thought of itself as central to the lives of those who reside in and associate with the city, and by owning .Boston, it views itself as the gateway to all things Boston online.”