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.yournamehere - Top Level Domains are changing but what does it mean?

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A Top Level Domain (TLD) is the first part after the dot, such as .com, .gov, .edu. Earlier this year, the Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit company responsible for what becomes a TLD, introduced a program to allow organisations and individuals to buy specific words to replace the traditional TLD’s. ICANN has received over 1,900 applications for the new generic TLDs.

The most popular name has been .app which 13 organisations have applied for, closely followed by .home, .inc, .art, .book, .blog and .shop. Only one organisation can own the TLD which has put Google and Amazon in direct competition for many of the most popular TLDs.

If an organisation is awarded a TLD, they are the registrar for that piece of “internet land” and can control what they allow on that land. Companies applying for TLDs such as .hsbc are unlikely to want much other than their own corporate sites on the TLD whereas the owner of .shop could receive many applications and therefore generate a lot of income.

ICANN will now undergo a selection process, which will consider public feedback, and decide which TLDs to award to which organisations. What happens then remains to be seen, some say it will completely change the internet, others say it is just a commercial land grab of the internet and, at $185,000 per application, I would say they have a point.

Undoubtedly some of the TLDs will “take-off” and if TLDs such as .design, .art or .music are used to create an online space for those with an interest in each area then there could be a benefit to both the owner of the TLD and to the general internet public. Having said that, what occupies the internet land of a new TLD will be totally at the discretion of the owner so it will depend how they use it. I would expect many successful applicants to find their TLD does not take-off with the cost of the application and subsequent running costs outweighing any benefit to the owner.