On the internet, visibility is everything. One of the most important factors is to have a domain name that is easy to remember and can be entered with ease. Once a domain name is taken up, another person can’t use it, which is a problem given the sheer popularity of ‘.com’ domains. This represents a large problem for many fledgling businesses looking to obtain a catchy and memorable domain name.
A variety of new TLDs are becoming available. ‘.bank’ internet domains were released recently specifically for businesses operating within the financial services industry. Available on a first come, first serve basis, this domain could prove to be incredibly popular and a fast seller. The “sunrise period”, the period in which businesses who have registered trademarks can file their domain name with ICANN to prevent cybersquatting, ends on June 17th, so businesses offering financial services should act swiftly to ensure that they aren’t left behind. Other TLDs recently released include ‘.expert’, ‘.pizza’ and ‘.training’, amongst many others. The creation of such domain extensions is in response to demand, arising from the sheer lack of space and affordability in concerns to more generic TLDs.
A recent controversy surrounds the ‘.sucks’ domain. The shortage of web addresses means that more domain name strings are being created, and ‘.sucks’ became available from the 1st of June. Created by ICANN, the rights to the domain extension were won by Vox Populi, who have enacted a complex pricing structure. Premium names (more popular names and terms, such as ‘life.sucks’) cost upwards of $249 with a $249 annual registration fee and standard registrations cost $249 a year. The controversy comes in regards to existing businesses and trademarks: Sunrise Premium is a list of domains containing trademarks, and those owning the rights to the trademarks will need to pay $2499 a year to host the domain, with $2499 to register. In comparison, consumer advocate subsidies can be purchased for $10 for those wishing to host a forum discussion website as long as they are not affiliated with the corporation that the domain happens to reference.
There is real concern over the extension essentially being extortionate. Those wishing to protect their reputation and prevent it from being tarnished, some say, will have to pay the fees. On the other hand, someone attempting to maliciously attack a company’s reputation through registering such a domain can simply turn to other variants, such as ‘companysucks.co.uk’. With ICANN moving towards independence, controlling itself rather than being controlled by the Department of Commerce in the United States, the controversy surrounding ‘.sucks’ raises question as to whether a lack of government control would be more detrimental to domain name registrations.
The sheer number of names released has many believing that we could be witnessing the end of ‘.com’. Though these calls are certainly premature, it’s hard to argue against the rising popularity of alternative TLDs in recent months. In particular, cybersquatting is becoming a real problem as the last useful ‘.com’ domains are snatched up, with many cybersquatting on popular domains to reap a profit from those desperate to secure a domain. Another issue in concerns to ‘.com’ is pricing and saturation of the market. The latest figures indicate that out of 288 million domains, 115.6 million are ‘.com’. This leads to pricing issues, with some domains costing tens of thousands of dollars. In contrast, registering on new TLDs can cost as little as $40 a year.
Though controversies surround new TLDs, as well as concerns in regards to how they operate and how companies can own the rights, it’s clear that the more generic domain names are running low on space. More and more new domain name extensions are being released to cope with demand from businesses. As more and more domain name registrars prepare for a deluge of businesses looking for unique domain extensions, one thing is for sure: The ‘.com’ domain is certainly becoming crowded, and more TLDs will help businesses rather than hinder them in the long run.