Some good news out of Paris last week. Internet regulators convened to discuss opening up top-level domains to companies, organizations and governments who can afford to buy them.
For a price tag ranging from about $40,000 to $400,000, you can buy your very own customized dot-name. New York City, for example, could purchase .nyc. Product categories could have their own extension, such as .car, .sports, and .bank. There is already talk of an .ebay extension. Investors could purchase dot-names, then sell the rights to a registrar such as GoDaddy, effectively adding other options of top-level domains to .com, .biz., .net, .info and the rest.
What does this mean for naming? With a sudden, explosive increase in available names, maybe the cachet around the prima facie dot-com name will finally begin to fade. Speculators who have been hoarding domain names may well be forced to lower their asking prices, as businesses find prima facie versions of their names available with a new extension.
With so many extensions available, predicting an URL for direct input into a browser will be more and more difficult for users. The current trend of navigating the Web via search, rather than direct URL, will become nearly universal. This, too, will decrease the need for a prima facie dot-com name.
And, God willing, we will see an end to nonsense Web 2.0 domain names. If suddenly more domain names are available, there will be no excuse for choosing a brand name based on what URL you could buy for $8.95 at GoDaddy.
Of course, you still have to find an available name that can be trademarked, but at least this will make the domain name piece of the naming puzzle a whole lot easier.