Hundreds of new domain name options will be available over the next year, as extensions like .book, .company and .social become available for registration.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has said the move will create more online diversity and options for individuals or companies that may not be able to get the domain name they want with the current (limited) extension options.
While different available domain name extensions like .tv and .me have gained a lot of attention over the past few years, they are still not a match for the Top Level Domain Names (TLDs) like .org, .net and especially .com.
The latter is the oldest domain name extension in use and was among the first created in 1984. After 30 years .com has come to represent the most respected and successful websites.
It is typically the most expensive domain name option and the most sought after. All of the biggest domain name purchases in 2013, for example, ended in .com and there are now officially no more four-letter .com domain names left for sale.
The overwhelming popularity of .com has sparked criticism and concern for online diversity, with key players like Google calling for a broader range of options.
“In 2016, it’s estimated that almost half of the world’s population will be online, yet nearly 50 percent of the websites we visit are found in the .com top-level domain (TLD),” Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the internet” has said in a Google blog post from 2012.
“Despite the great opportunities the web has enabled for people around the world, there is still a lingering question about the diversity of the domain space (given that the number of generic TLDs has only increased by 14 in the last 28 years).”
Simply put, .com has become synonymous with the internet. So will these new domain names make a difference?
Initially, the release of new extensions is expected to cause a huge increase in domain name sales as people snap up the most popular options, like one-word domain names.
Options like new.careers or my.docs, for example, will be hot property as soon as they come onto the market, regardless of whether they are snapped up by related companies or by savvy investors in the domain space.
Some people, however, are sceptical of the impact these new domain names will have over .com.
In an interview with Computerworld.com, industry analyst Ezra Gottheil says the new domain names could lead to more confusion than benefits.
“If you want people to remember your site, you better use .com. By using a new domain, you’re asking people to remember twice as much — the name plus the new domain,” he explains.
“The ostensible benefit is you can get a simple url, like www.boston.bikes, but I think you’re much better off sticking with .com, even if it means betterbikesofboston.com.”
While there is no doubt .com has staying power, it is also clear that these new domain names will shake things up over the coming months and years.