Last week, the Washington state-based startup Donuts revealed that it had amassed $100 million and applied for 307 new gTLDs, the letters that come after the final dot in a web address. Now the Internet authority ICANN has released the entire list of 1,930 gTLDS that Donuts and other companies have applied for and hope to own. This is going to change how you think about Net addresses, how new companies choose their name, and even how search engines deliver you relevant information. That is to say, this is big.
The full list is available via ICANN here, in a document that reveals the full details of who's applied for what names.
Unsurprisingly there are some big name companies involved. Amazon's made a big play, bidding for 76 of the gTLDs starting with .Amazon but it's also one of the companies trying to nab .app, and it's bidding for .author, .book, .aws, .buy, .cloud, .coupon, and .kindle. Amazon's also aiming at .fast. A company called Charleston Road Registry has applied for .google, also .android and .chrome, .buy, and a number of other names, which suggests that it's applying on behalf of Google because of ICANN's provisions for protecting brands and the @google.com email addresses associated with the applications. Apple seems to have contented itself for .apple. Curiously Facebook is notable in its absence from this process--there's no ".facebook" in the list.
While these brands will be important for the companies concerned, and do have implications for things like site security and searching, the average net user will be much more intrigued by additions like .tattoo, .bingo, .guru, .love, .ketchup, .gay, .grocery, .money, .mormon, .movie, .news, .pizza, .rubgy, .shoes, .shop, and .wine. And on and on. And these are just the domains that are in unaccented Western characters--there are many more in Arabic, Chinese, and other languages.
ICANN must go through a process of checks and objections before you start seeing these words in the URLs that you tap into your browser's address bar. Before then there are many questions to be asked about the process itself--despite the fact that the process was open to the world, the applicants are skewed heavily toward U.S. companies, while continents such as Africa are under-represented. But when this months-long process is over, you will quite definitely think differently about the web.
[Image: Kit Eaton]