The New Domain Extensions and the Future of the Internet

With the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) pushing to develop new domain extensions, questions have begun to swirl regarding what this means for companies and Internet users alike. These new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) will allow individuals and companies to register a domain with one of over a thousand new domain extensions, an explosion of domain registration choices unprecedented in the history of the Internet. What are we likely to see as a result? How will this impact everyday life on the Internet?

Many individuals in the technology sector think that the growth of these domain extensions is going to minimal. They feel that businesses looking to register a domain look to go where the people are. With the potentially limitless variety of the new gTLDs, businesses gambling on untested new domain extensions could lose website traffic just because people don’t know what comes after the dot.

A positive impact that these new gTLDs could have on the Internet is that they allow individuals and companies to register domain names in their native language, through internationalized domain names (IDNs). As a result, people will no longer be reined in by the traditional Web experience that we have today. This could likely drive up traffic for companies or individuals looking to make websites for their native countries, and in their native tongues.

How are these new gTLDs going to get off the ground? That is the question that many in technology sector are beginning to ask. No one knows if the allure of the .com will fade or not. Will these new gTLDs draw in new domain registrations, or will they fall into the dark depths of the Internet and languish like many past attempts at new gTLDs? While it is evident that there is significant growth outside of the 100 million domains registered under the .com gTLD, those looking to register a domain for the first time likely don’t want to start off in an untested market like a new gTLD.

Another question that has begun to arise is how the market is going to price domain registrations that use these new gTLDs. Because the explosion of choice will create competition, it is possible that such domain registrations won’t have the high prices associated with previous new gTLDs. On the other hand, driving the prices too low could impact the legitimacy of these domains. We will have to wait and see what the market decides to do in its approach to these new domains.

Whether or not these new generic top-level domains will have a significant impact on the future of the Internet remains to be seen. What is certain, though, is that domain registrars have a long road ahead of them in trying to get these new gTLDs off the ground. It is likely that there will be some initial problems with buy-in on behalf of users and companies alike. As with anything on the Internet, however, if the domain registrars can successfully market these new products to a few key individuals, then any one of the new gTLDs could launch to become a viral success in no time.

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