The Board of ICANN, which controls top-level domains and Internet connectivity, has voted to allow for expansion of new top-level domains (TLDs) to include an almost unlimited number of broad, unlimited strings as new dots. So brands like Coca-Cola could ask to create “.cola” or “.coke” and banks might ask for “.bank.”
While there are obvious brand and trademark issues in this decision, the $185,000 price tag to apply for a new TLD makes it only available to the big boys. So you won’t see me getting “.Craig” approved anytime soon.
Even the ICANN board can’t really predict (or at least won’t try) where this will go. It’s obvious that some in-fighting in various industries could erupt, but most likely, we’ll see obvious brands (“.Walmart”?) appearing as their own TLDs and many industries may see cooperatives joining to create industry-specific TLDs like “.pizza”.
Overall, it’s a nice move forward in some ways, but as with anything, it will likely devolve into a lot of lawyers making money through lawsuits over trivial questions. Sort of like the patent process for the Internet, I guess.
ICANN believes that it will see between 300 and 1,000 new applications for TLDs in the coming year. Several hosting and registration companies are already marketing services to apply for and create new TLDs. A flurry of mad press releases from various players immediately hit the wire after ICANN’s decision Sunday.