Individuals and businesses are currently constricted to a select number of domain names owing to the limited selection of 22 domain name endings (.coms, .co.uk’s etc). This hasn’t been a huge problem for registered trademarks and big businesses who can claim relevant domain names containing their company name, but smaller and medium sized businesses have sometimes struggled to find and register relevant domain names as their options slowly dwindle online. Nowadays the shortest domain name you can register is 4 letters, and soon all the 4 letter domains will have run out too.
However, the company in charge of creating internet addresses has apparently found a solution – albeit a costly one. The solution – currently still on the table – is to offer new domain name extensions for a minimum fee of $185,000 (£118,585). This basically means that companies and individuals will be able to buy a domain name with an ending of their choice, for example www.options.choice rather than www.options.com.
Having a personalised domain name sets you apart from other businesses in two key ways 1) it indicates that you are an established successful business with enough money to afford a totally individual website name, and 2) It offers greater SEO potential as you can have an extra keyword in place of the .com, be it a service or your company name that you choose. It would also increase vastly the number of options for businesses, who would no longer have to compromise with sub-standard domain names in order to register a popular domain (e.g. www.paint.com) in an already overcrowded domain market. Imagine www.paint.brush.
Obviously, the biggest drawback is the massive cost – and on balance it won’t make your company money unless you really are a huge enterprise with masses of online traffic and e-commerce. Even larger companies aren’t flooding to support the move, as they are well aware that costs could reach infinitely higher than $185,000 if a rival company decides to fight them for a domain ending e.g. .clothes, .paint etc. The problem becomes more complex still when you consider the individuals and non-profit organisations it could affect, who could be forced to watch helplessly as squatters or worse (e.g. paedophiles targeting a Children’s charity) register ‘their’ domains.
So currently the costs outweigh the benefits, but if the organisation in charge were to scale it down and make it an attractive & affordable prospect for large businesses, what would this mean for small and medium businesses? And how would adding hundreds of new endings affect the current problems experienced (domain name squatting, hacking etc) with only 22 endings?