Moving on From .com

November 12, 2008

Several companies are eyeing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), as it proposes to roll out several dozen new website suffixes, to join the 21 already in use. Some of the suggested suffixes have great potential for brand building, like .bank and .hotel. Others could be incredibly hazardous if utilized by the wrong people, like .verizon.

The .com suffix has become so generic that despite there being a mathematically infinite number of domain name combinations, there is a finite number of logical domain names for companies to utilize.

Rather than create new suffixes that are tied into already created corporate brands, like .verizon, ICANN should instead focus its efforts more on its already created but underutilized brands. If they could build up suffixes like .biz and .tv, ICANN could effectively expand the website domain options for businesses that cannot find a suitable name under .com or .net.

Suffixes like .bank and .hotel have great potential, for their respective industries. Each industry specific suffix would need to be closely regulated, to ensure that the companies registering top-level domains under the new suffixes, are legitimate businesses and not an attempt by someone to fool consumers. The application process and corresponding fee proposed, would deter most illegitimate attempts at registering false domain names, but that regulation would still need to be kept.

The serious problem that could arise is from the lower level domain names, which would be associated with smaller companies. With a significantly lower application fee, those website domain names would be ripe for foraging by scammers. And in today’s current economy, not all businesses, large or small, can afford to register multiple domain names just to protect their company and their reputations.

If business were to endorse the .biz suffix or the corresponding industry specific suffix like .hotel, corporations could effectively brand that suffix, and secure it in the minds of consumers as being respectable, and more importantly trustworthy. The potential here, is for businesses to do for .biz, what governmental and federal websites have done for the .gov suffix. By bringing these domain suffixes up a level above the generic .com, consumers would no longer have to worry about whether a site is trustworthy or not.

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