The internet is casting a wider web beyond the familiar .com domain names, and 2014 will bring about radical changes to virtual addresses.
Web domain name registering companies like GoDaddy have started offering web names ending such as .email, .play, and .music.
The idea of new, generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) was introduced by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
According to ICANN, which governs the use of extensions on the Internet, the concept was developed to “increase competition and choice in the domain name space.”
ICANN charges a fee of $185,000 for a new gTLD and keeps an online registry of all the domain suffixes assigned on their website.
“People who want them are going to be fairly rich organizations,” said Rob Robson, Computer and Gaming program coordinator at Humber, adding ICANN is charging a “fairly high price for them.”
It made sense for brands to buy their dot names, said Ishan Brown, media foundation student at Humber College.
“You have to spend money to make money,” he said.
Humber student André Marcujo however, thinks the new idea is stupid.
“You can Google anything, and nobody looks at the web address,” he said.
Cyber-squatting was a real possibility here, said Robson. Big-brand suffixes are snatched up and “somebody is holding it for ransom and charging $10-million for it. It’s a very profitable business,” he said, but questioned the necessity behind the decision.
“Whether you are sony.com or sony.sony…what’s the difference?” said Robson.
He also said this concept has been going on for a long time.
“You get there first and buy them up,” said Robson as there is a real threat of cyber-squatters sitting on the domain names and demanding money.
Google grabbed its product suffixes and some other interesting ones like, .earth, .lol, and .dot, the ICANN registry showed. Amazon purchased .author, .shop and .save among other names, while Apple expectedly picked .apple, the registry showed.
Once ICANN transferred new domain extension over to buyers, they in turn could offer customers websites ending with those extensions.
These new web names are not limited to the English language. Chinese and Arabic gTLDs became operational this month, according to the ICANN registry.