ICANN said it expects the first new address to go live in 2013.
What’s not clear, however, is whether consumers will embrace any of the new names.
“It’s going to present users with a lot of new choices,” said Brian Cute, chief executive of the Public Interest Registry, which runs the “.org” domain. “If you have 50 choices of toothpaste, the average consumer is going to the brands they know. That could be the case here.”
Art Brodsky, a spokesman for Public Knowledge, said: “It’s a matter of changing the ingrained habits of millions of people on the Web. Maybe they can do that, and maybe they can’t.”
Even so, many companies are bracing for potential changes to their business.
Advertisers have criticized ICANN’s proposal, saying their concerns were not adequately addressed during the initial review process. Advertisers and others have raised concerns that companies will have to have several defensive addresses — negative-sounding names that the company purchases to keep a rival from exploiting them — to keep counterfeiters at bay.
Beckstrom said Wednesday that ICANN has added several protective provisions, including the option for rapid takedown when brand holders feel their intellectual property may be threatened. ICANN also reserves the right to take a domain name back if there is significant abuse.
Others, however, are bracing for the giants of the Internet to seize even more power over its commerce.
“It would be wrong on so many levels for Amazon to acquire either the ‘.book’ or ‘.author’ top-level domains,” said Paul Aiken of the Author’s Guild. “Their ambitions to extend their monopoly in bookselling have long been abundantly clear, and with their cash, their technical knowledge, this could be yet another way in which they’ve extended their control over the book market. This really makes no sense.”