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ICANN to allow custom domain suffixes, .com and friends are old fashioned, company-specific ones to be the new hotness

Yesterday ICANN decided to allow custom domain suffixes. Right now companies have to settle for .com or .org or one of the 20 others standard suffixes or use country-specific ones. Starting 2012 they can create custom suffixes – if they’re willing to pay for it.

It’s pricy but I’m sure sites ending in .google or .apple are not very far off. It would allow companies to offer very memorable URLs for their important products – think mail.google for Gmail (instead of the current mail.google.com) or iphone.apple (instead of www.apple.com/iphone).

The cost of an application for a custom domain name starts at $185,000 but it may be higher depending on what ICANN have to do. And it’s not a simple task – companies sue each other over trademarked names every day and ICANN have to be very careful who they give the custom domains to.

Applications for custom domain suffixes can be submitted January-April 2012 and it may be 9 months before the process is complete, so we may have to wait until 2013 to see the first custom suffixes roll out. About 500 applications will be accepted in the first round, with more rounds to come.

If two companies apply for the same domain suffix, there will be a complicated procedure to determine who deserves it most. And if both are found equally deserving, then the suffix will be sold at an auction to the highest bidder.

Several .com domain names have sold for millions of dollars – like toys.com, computers.com, cameras.com and so on. But if both Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola apply for .cola (so they can make sites like coca.cola or pepsi.cola), how will ICANN choose? Or will most of these disputes go down to the auction part.

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