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The Lowdown

June 26, 2008 Post

Here's the The Lowdown from DNJournal.com! Updated daily to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry!

Compiled by Ron Jackson (Editor/Publisher)


I've spent most of today fielding calls from a wide variety of mainstream media outlets, including ABC News and the New York Times, about what impact ICANN's decision to allow 

New Internet real estate
is expected to start coming off the 
ICANN assembly line in 2009 or 2010

an unlimited number of new extensions will have on the Internet and those of us in the domain industry. As expected, the ICANN board voted to proceed with the plan today just before closing their 32nd International meeting in Paris, France.

I told the reporters that I don't expect this move to have a major impact on our industry or on which extensions most people will choose to build  their websites on over the next decade. I believe that because we already have historical examples of how little new extensions have impacted the use and popularity of the three original global extensions, .com, .net, .org (and the country code extensions assigned to each nation like Germany's .de and Great Britain's

.co.uk). The two oldest examples of new global TLDs were introduced in 2001 (.info) and 2002 (.biz) and despite their long time in the marketplace, neither has affected values or usage of the extensions that came before them. 

There are many newer examples that have fared much worse, not even moving the needle on the recognition meter. .Travel for instance has been a complete flop even though it incorporates one of the very best keywords on the web. .Pro has also failed to make a ripple despite featuring a word with a very positive connotation. It does take time to build recognition though, which is why I think the elder statesmen of new extensions - .info and .biz - are the most instructive examples of the long term prospects for a wave of new TLDs..

At the end of May, according to figures compiled by Denic.de, just under 5 million .info domains had been registered and just under 2 million .biz. (compared to over 76 million .coms, the extension that an overwhelming majority of the most commonly used websites are built on) .Info was able to inflate its numbers by offering extremely low or even free registrations. Both extensions were boosted by speculators who bought up the best  keywords. I don't think that will happen to the same degree when a flood of new extensions hits the market for a couple of reasons; 1) It would be prohibitively expensive to buy up keywords across a large number of new extensions and 2) there is little incentive to buy them up in the first place because, beyond the absolute upper tier of keywords, neither .info or .biz has had a lot of success in the aftermarket.

I expect that a flood of new extensions will create some confusion in the marketplace, but not confusion over what the long proven .com, .net and .org extensions stand for. Putting new extensions out there is the easy part. Burning them into people's consciousness is a much taller order as .info and .biz, after seven years of trying, are well aware.

Some of the new extensions will probably offer some interesting niche or novelty plays that could be modestly profitable for speculators (just as .info and .biz have been for those who chose names very carefully) but overall I don't expect any of them to offer much of a departure from the .info and .biz scripts we have already seen. If anything the sheer volume of new extensions is likely to dilute the impact that any single one of them might have on the existing order of things.

As usual, the primary beneficiaries will be ICANN who will charge hefty fees to operate a new extension and possibly registrars who will have more products to peddle. Individual registrants will have more extensions to choose from, but they will face the same dilemma they face today. You can get good keywords for less in extensions that aren't widely used - but you also get less recognition (and thus a greater likelihood of errors) when people search for your website or type your email address. Like most other things in life you get what you pay for. 
(Posted June 26, 2008)

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