/// ‘.Brand’ coming to the Internet: Businesses dominate applications for new domain name suffixes
NEW YORK — Amazon.com wants “.joy,” Google wants “.love” and L’Oreal wants “.beauty.”
Big brands are behind hundreds of proposals for new Internet addresses, including scores for generic terms such as “cruise,” ‘’.kids” and “.tires.”
If approved, Amazon could use “.author” in an attempt to dominate online bookselling, while Google could use “.love” to collect registration fees from its rivals.
Amazon and Google also are vying for “.app” and “.music,” while the wine company Gallo Vineyards Inc. wants “.barefoot.”
It’s all part of the largest expansion of the Internet address system since its creation in the 1980s, a process likely to cause headaches for some companies while creating vast opportunities for others.
The organization in charge of Internet addresses, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, announced the proposals for Internet suffixes Wednesday. A suffix is the “.com” part in a domain name.
The bids now go through a review that could take months or years. Up to 1,000 suffixes could be added each year.
There were 1,930 proposals for 1,409 different suffixes. The bulk of proposals that met the May 30 deadline came from North America and Europe. About 100 were for suffixes in non-English characters, including Chinese, Arabic and Thai.
From a technical standpoint, the names let Internet-connected computers know where to send email and locate websites. But they’ve come to mean much more. For Amazon.com Inc., for instance, the domain name is the heart of the company, not just an address.
A new suffix could be used to identify sites that have a certain level of security protection. It could be used to create online neighborhoods of businesses affiliated with a geographic area or an industry. French cosmetics giant L’Oreal, for instance, proposed “.beauty” as a home for beauty products and general information on personal beauty.
“The Internet is about to change forever,” ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom declared. “We’re standing at the cusp of a new era of online innovation, innovation that means new businesses, new marketing tools, new jobs, new ways to link communities and share information.”
But there’s a question of how useful the new names will be. Alternatives to “.com” introduced over the past decade have had mixed success. These days, Internet users often find websites not by typing in the address but by using a search engine. And with mobile devices getting more popular, people are using apps to bypass Web browsers entirely.
Many businesses worry that they’ll have to police the Internet for addresses that misuse their brands, in many cases paying to register names simply to keep them away from others. It was one thing having some 300 suffixes; it’s another to have thousands.
“One thing that’s going to occur is a lot of money is going to get sucked out of the ecosystem,” said Lauren Weinstein, co-founder of People For Internet Responsibility and a strong critic of ICANN. “The cost is billions and billions of dollars with no value returned to people and an enormous capacity for confusion.”