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ICANN reveals bidders for top level domain names

Jennifer Scott

ICANN has published the list of companies bidding for new domain names made available by the internet organisation.

A significant 1,930 submissions were made to ICANN for the generic top level domains (gTLD) which will enable companies to have more individual website names, such as .apple or .google, compared with the limited list of 22 on offer today.

The bidding process has not been simple though. Simply to put in a bid to be evaluated by ICANN costs companies $185,000 each time, and if they succeed a $25,000 annual registry fee will also be charged.

The 1,930 submissions have not all been for separate domain names. Symantec and Google are among the seven companies fighting over the .cloud domain, while six others are aiming for .tech. The most applied for domain was .app, which is sought by 13 companies.

There are also questions of how opening up domains in this way will affect the web, with some companies claiming it will lead to a privatisation of the internet and large companies dominating the space.

"The new .anything domain name is the biggest thing to happen to the internet since its inception [and] it’s a very bold move from ICANN to go from launching one or two domain name extensions a year to opening up hundreds of top level domain names in this way,” said Stephen Ewart, marketing manager for UK domain registry Names.co.uk.

“For the first time ever, we will see brands having complete control over their own gTLD. Our concern is that this could lead to more Facebook-style walled gardens as big brands seek to keep you in their own areas of the internet,” he said.

Ewart admitted the change would lead to more competition and, in turn, better consumer choice, but added that it could also be viewed as a "silent privatisation of the web – for better or worse”.

Only 40 applications came from the UK, compared with 884 from the US and 303 from Asia. 

The first domains are expected to go live at the start of 2013.


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