Grab Your Cash and Warm Up the Wagon — ICANN Domain Rush Kicks Off Tomorrow
The domain name landgrab begins tomorrow.
That’s when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — the organization charged with managing the Internet’s domain name system — will begin accepting applications for new top-level domains (TLDs), a controversial decision that could create thousands of new vanity Internet suffixes. Today we have .com, .net, .org and 19 others. By year’s end, we’ll have many, many more — everything from brand names to services. Domain registrar Verisign estimates there will be up to 1,500 applications for new TLDs (think .sex, .NYC, .deloitte, etc.).
And ICANN is charging a $185,000 fee for every one. Which is great for ICANN, but not so great for companies worried about protecting their brands online and for consumers who might be confused by the vast clutter of new vanity domains. Coca-Cola, General Electric and 50-some other corporations have already stepped forward to oppose the program. But ICANN doesn’t appear to be listening.
Announcing the plan last summer, ICANN chief executive Rod Beckstrom said it would open up the Internet’s addressing system “to the limitless possibilities of human imagination and creativity.”
But as I wrote at the time, by “limitless possibilities of human imagination and creativity,” he surely meant corporate imagination and creativity. Because that’s who’s being targeted here: Entities with the money to blow on $185,000 TLD application fees and a desire to promote themselves. This is going to be a massive brand-identity landgrab and one that’s unlikely to do much good for consumers, but plenty for ICANN and its coffers.