Friday, July 18, 2008

I think ICANN

Seems the folks over at ICANN have decided that the "holy" top level domain (TLD) business is more about money than control. They've recently come up with the idea that along with the "blessed" TLD's of .com, .net., .org, .biz that they would just open up the flood gates (for a price!) and let anyone with cash make up their own TLD.

Talk about your wild west!

Basically their proposal is that rather than people just buying an existing TLD domain for the price of a latte, anyone with $100,000 (or more - final price TBD) - can just make up any TLD and basically "own" that extension.

Think about that. The obvious ones are .sex, .money, .bank, .tech, etc. - but that will have a huge impact on both the marketplace as well as the average consumer.

For example - what if Marriott scores the .hotel domain? Will they preclude Hilton and Sheraton from buying a domain name that ends in .hotel? How about all the speculators that in the early days of the bubble were buying up every single domain (and misspelled variant) that could potentially have any value. They'll do the same for the other TLDs as well.

What about companies with trademarks and intellectual property marks - they will now have to police dozens of TLDs for violations and go after them one by one.

Last but not least - what about the end users? Talk about confusion! Most people have a hard time trying to remember Now if you throw in all the other possible TLDs - it could be, or, or, or, or mybank.weTreatYouRight, etc.

Now at least there's only a few possible variations - with the default .com being the top-of-mind domain - even for organizations that are not companies. I mean, really, when's the last time you visited a commerical company that ended in .net? How about .biz?

It says something about an organization if they don't have a .com address. It says "We woke up too late on this whole 'Internet Thing' and could only get a crappy .net or .biz domain."

However, with a proliferation of TLD's - I think it will become even more valuable to have a .com (or .net or .biz) email - unless a few TLD's raise to the top of customer awareness through advertising and marketing.

Even then, breaking the .com habit won't go easily - and there is bound to be ample opportunity for good guys and bad guys alike to flourish in a free-for-all (well, a $100,000-for-all) type of unregulated (except by ability to pay) environment. The bad guys are already have a field day with phising sites and Trojans and stuff. It would be easy for them to create all kinds of domains on all kinds of TLD's and then just keep them rotating all the time.

All-in-all, I just don't see who wins with this type of arrangement.

Oh, wait, now I get it - ICANN.

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