Most of the websites you visit on the Internet probably end with the domain “.com.” Other common domains, like .edu, .org, and .gov., are reserved for companies and organizations in specific fields. As you can imagine, the relatively small number of available domain names has led to countless arguments and bidding wars over web addresses that promise to be valuable to someone. Sometimes, a company starting a website is unable to get a simple web address based on its name because someone else has beaten them to the punch and bought the domain already. In fact, there are companies that specialize in anticipating what domains will be in high demand, buying those domains, and then selling them to the highest bidder. The cost of the most desirable domains run in the millions of dollars.
This situation is not what Internet developers anticipated, and now they are doing something to remedy it. The revolutionary change will alter the way the Internet looks to users around the world, and should simplify it quite a bit. In June 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers decided to make available a nearly endless supply of new domain names. Instead of ending a website address with “.com,” companies and individuals will have access to “.newyork,” “.nfl,” “.music,” and almost any other ending you can imagine.
The Corporation, abbreviated to ICANN, is the company responsible for holding and selling domain names to Internet users across the globe. They’re playing it safer this time, too: instead of simply selling the new domains to whoever requests it first, they are planning to use reasonable criteria to determine whether it is “fair” for a customer to gain the rights to all website addresses under a given domain. In other words, don’t plan to rush in and claim the rights to “.walmart,” in case some company would like to buy it from you later. In an added benefit to companies and groups, they will be able to develop a multitude of different sites under a single new domain name, without worrying that those valuable unique web addresses will be bought up by others.
Internet users will probably start to see the new domains in early 2013. In another exciting change, ICANN is going to allow non-English characters to be included in domain names. This will expand the number of available domains even further to include names in Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and other languages.