ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has finally approved a new policy for top-level domains that it has been working on for three years.  The new concept will create an unlimited number of new domains, but you had better have deep pockets before you just run out trying to apply to have your name turned into a URL.

The new policy will allow anyone to apply for their domain, but it will set you back $185,000 USD, which explains why they are only anticipating 300-1000 applications.  While there is an idea for some generic type top-level domains such as .bank, there is also an anticipation for companies to want to secure their own names.  Since .canon was specifically mentioned by ICANN, it’s a safe bet that the camera company has expressed interest in this concept, so you could easily see things such as powershot.canon pointing to that particular line of cameras on their site.

The issue here is, it is going to become harder and harder for people to remember a domain name if they see it on a billboard.  Even I just automatically assume every domain name I see is a .com and I have to make a point of reminding myself it isn’t.  There have been other moves like this before with .jobs, but how often do you see that in use?  I can see this working for informational sites such as info.nyc, but is the city ready to spend $185K to just make one source of information easier to get to?  And then you have to remember that companies aren’t just going to give up on their existing domain names because of these new ones.  There is no way that Canon is not going to keep renewing canon.com out of fear of someone coming in and using it without their permission.

While this seems like a good idea on the surface, it also feels like it has the potential to be really confusing to the consumers.  What I see is a way for a lot of people to make a lot more money from companies by registering domain names.  Say only 300 new TLDs get registered, that is $55.5 million in revenue not to mention that amount of money for all of the other domains that will be registered.  True, things like info.nyc won’t cost $185K, but some registrar will make a few bucks off all of the NYC domains purchased.  And will there be any checks and balances for who can purchase these new domains?  One would assume so, because otherwise it could turn into a huge mess.

If all goes according to plan, these new domains will launch in 2014.  The infographic below from CircleID explains it all pretty easily.

What do you think of all of these new domain names being added to the mix?

ICANN Top-Level Domains