Seems like just a few short months ago we were debating whether or not the top-level domain .xxx would be a thing. Now, we have a new Internet land grab as major players attempt to snatch up as many of the .com alternatives that they can afford to register. Internet megastore, and survivor of the early web days, Amazon is now after 76 domains, including .amazon, .kindle, and .joy.
For those unaware, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers basically controls how things are named on the Internet. Recently, ICANN made the controversial move to open up top-level domains — that is, anything to the right of the “.”, like “.com” — to pretty much whatever people were willing to pay for. .Geekosystem? Sure. .Max? Why not. .WigSex? Takes all kinds.
The only catch is that applicants first have to be willing to shell out $185,000 up front and $25,000 a year to maintain their claim. Also, and this is where things get interesting, applicants must defend their domain claims in cases where they overlap with other claims. You can bet that there is going to be a lot of wheeling and dealing going on behind closed doors.
Amazon’s 76 applications may not be the biggest of the bunch (Google has about 101, among them “.LOL”) but it does represent a significant investment on the part of the company. It also might hint at what Amazon may be hoping to do in the long term. For instance, “.circle” could just be a hopeful application that might useful down the line, or a forthcoming service the company has yet to announce.
Even more interesting is Amazon’s decision to apply for numerous non-Latin character domains and non-English domains as well. “.Wanggou” and “.アマゾン,” for instance.
Of course, much of the applications are smart defensive acquisitions. Amazon really wants to control “.amazon” to prevent it being taken by some ne’er-do-well or a competitor. In fact, this kind of defensive purchasing is one of the arguments against opening up top-level domain registration, as it forces companies to pay through the nose just to keep someone from horning in on their online territory.
Moreover, the high price means that this name game will be dominated by only the people that can shell big bucks. That’s bad news for someone who had a brilliant, game changing idea for “.movie,” but good news for countries with obscure domain names.
We’re likely witnessing one of the biggest changes in how the Internet looks and works as ICANN goes forward with its new naming scheme. It will almost certainly be messy, and it’s only just beginning.
For the curious, here’s a full list of Amazon’s domain applications:
- Libyan turmoil could be bad for .ly
- Google is after .lol
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