Corporations Fight for Website Suffixes as Web Address System Expands

by Jordan Richardson on June 14, 2012

Advertising has always been big business online and things are about to get even bigger as a bidding war for critical web address suffixes kicks into high gear.

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote about a significant change to the Internet’s “naming system.” Websites will no longer be limited to so-called traditional suffixes like .com and .org. Users can now “look forward” to suffixes like .pizza, .car and .space.

Proposals for those suffixes (and more enlightening additions, I’m sure), are among about 2,000 such suffixes thrown in by corporations seeking further identities with their brands. Apple, Sony, Amazon, and American Express are among the companies jockeying for position to advance their brands via suffix.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been handling an influx of proposals from companies, with the likes of Google and Amazon seeking out dozens of names each. Called the generic Top-Level Domain Program (gTLD), ICANN has designed the suffix proposal program to “increase competition and choice by introducing new gTLDs into the Internet’s addressing system.”

ICANN introduced the proposal for the suffixes on Wednesday and said that the review process could take a number of months. The bulk of the proposals came from Europe and North America. There were 1,930 proposals for 1,409 different suffixes. Currently, there are about 300 suffixes in use to go with the standard usages of .com and .ca.

Breaking it down further, some 911 proposals came from North America while 675 came from Europe. Only 17 proposals were out of Africa, while 24 came out of Latin America and the Caribbean. Asia had 303 proposals (16 percent of the total proposals), although many believed the rules would dictate that there would be more proposals from that region. There are restrictions on non-English characters currently that will lift when the new suffixes are introduced, which will permit Chinese, Japanese and Korean suffixes.

The process of proposing and dishing out the suffixes will change the Internet significantly. Companies, individuals and any other groups will be able to express their identities in completely different ways. It will also make things more specific, with suffixes like .bank and .secure drawing out lots of duplicate bids. ICANN says that those who’ve submitted duplicate bids will be encouraged to “work it out,” although no specifics as to how that would happen were offered.

ICANN is expected to take about a year to go through and approve the first pile of new suffixes. The public can comment on the proposals and can, where applicable, file a trademark violation or argue the offensiveness of a particular suffix.

Proposals currently cost $185,000 each. These suffixes are also expected to be big business for those who buy them with the intention of re-selling them to companies and groups in need. You can check out the list of proposed suffixes here.

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