A slate of roughly 2,000 new Web suffixes, including “.app” and “.sex,” was revealed Wednesday by the nonprofit organization tasked with regulating domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The group announced last year that it would take applications for new domain names to foster growth and competition online. The new domains are scheduled to go into effect next year.
“We’re standing at the cusp of a new era of online innovation,” said Rod Beckstrom, president of the group, known as ICANN.
If Internet users embrace the new domains, the companies that control them could bear considerable influence on Web traffic.
Amazon has applied to control the “.book” and “.movie” names, for example, meaning that anyone else selling those items would have to get the company’s permission to be listed within that domain.
The National Retail Federation had urged that oversight of such generic domain names be given to impartial entities rather than individual companies.
“The results for now are as potentially unfair to businesses and consumers as we feared they might be,” said Mallory Duncan, general counsel for the trade group.
For example, if a grocery store controls the “.grocery” suffix, it could theoretically exclude competitors from listing their sites there.
Duncan said consumers may not realize that the new domains are under private control and that the open competition that prevails within the “.com” realm may not exist within, say, “.grocery.”
“Consumers going to that domain may not realize that all of their shopping is being done with one company instead of a competitive market,” Duncan said.
Google was among the most prolific applicants, seeking to register 101 names at an application cost of $18.7 million. Never lacking in its quest for virtual completeness, the company is seeking to control “.mom,” “.dad” and “.kid.”
Amazon applied for 76 new names, including “.amazon” and “.zappos.”
The expansion of Web domains has the potential to make over how surfers conceive of the Internet. Until now, entities have largely broken down by type of institution: “.gov” for government agencies, “.com” for businesses and “.org” for other groups.
The new suffixes add a potentially confusing array of categories. Among the many that have been formally proposed are “.sucks,” “.rip” and “.vip.” While some might sound like jokes, the fact that the application fee for each is $185,000 tends to keep things serious.
Applicants were heavily concentrated in North America (911), Europe (675) and the Asia-Pacific region (303). There were only 17 applications from Africa, which raised questions about whether the cost of an application was too high to be equitable.