New Web addresses now live: .bike, .guru, others now open

Remember this day: it’s the day the Web started to expand. As of Wednesday, Internet users can now register addresses in new domain names — the official term for everything that comes right of the dot in a URL. That means that the average Web surfer will can expand beyond the normal rotation of .com, .org and .net when typing in Web addresses.

Internet registrar Donuts has opened the door to seven new domains: .bike, .singles, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, and .ventures.

And why, exactly, anyone want a new Web address? There are a few reasons. For one, businesses looking to highlight their core business — bike shops, for example — may be interested in picking up a new address. That goes double for anyone who came to the Web too late to get the exact .com address that they wanted.

While the change is likely to feel a bit jarring to Web surfers who’ve grown accustomed to the 22 Web suffixes in the current rotation, the change has been a long time coming. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization charged with regulating domains, first approved the expansion in 2011. But several critics raised concerns that opening the door to an unlimited amount of new domains could hurt the security and stability of the Internet if networks were not up to the task of supporting the new addresses.

Top advertisers also took issue with the proposal, saying that it would leave brands vulnerable to increased fraud if, for example, scammers bought a site with the address “apple.computer” and convinced consumers to spend money on fake or nonexistent goods.

ICANN addressed some of those concerns with intellectual property measures and a promise to roll out domain names slowly to test for network problems. Once it was clear the group would move ahead with its plan, companies then to submit proposals for vanity domains to ICANN — a request that came with a $185,000 application fee. Applicants included companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Macy’s, Wal-Mart and Google, which applied for over 100 names including .lol and .android.

Donuts applied for the most new real estate with over 300 applications for top-level domains. As of Tuesday, the company said that it had secured 105 contracts to operate the new tracts of the Internet.

The firm said Tuesday that it will roll out additional top-level domains weekly — the next batch includes .camera, .equipment., .graphics and .photography.

Related stories:

Web industry officials balk at domain expansion plan

New York snaps up .nyc; Three things to know about new Web addresses

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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