.Apple, .Sony, .McDonalds? Companies Now Registering New Dot-Brand Domain Names

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DomainMarket.com offers advice and insight on purchasing dot-anything domains, and how the new websites could change the Internet landscape.

This is huge. It totally changes the game for businesses and the options they have for branding themselves.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently began accepting applications for dot-anything domain names. This means that companies like Apple may start operating websites that end in dot-Apple instead of dot-com. Utah-based DomainMarket.com explains how the dot-anything domain craze may change the Internet landscape.

“This is huge,” said Grant Chandler, president of DomainMarket.com. “It totally changes the game for businesses and the options they have for branding themselves.”

DomainMarket.com is an online marketplace for the purchase of premium domain names. The firm has sold domain names to powerful Internet brands like SEO.com and Phone.com.

ICANN will be accepting applications for domain suffixes until April 12. But registering a custom suffix is not cheap. The application fee is $185,000, and start-up costs are estimated at $500,000.

“For certain companies with a strong brand presence, like Sony, it can be an opportunity to gain more Internet real estate. It makes sense for Sony to have a website like televisions.sony and direct customers looking for TVs to that website,” Chandler said. “But it’s not for all brands and companies. It would be a constant struggle for small businesses to market and brand their domain with a custom suffix.”

According to the International Trademark Association, there has been scant corporate interest in purchasing domain names with custom suffixes.

Chandler explained that this is because companies do not want to tackle the dilemma of directing their customers to a whole new domain name, especially when most people are used to the dot-com suffix.

“There can only be one king in the domain market, and the king is the dot-com domains,” said Chandler. “While there is some value to owning dot-net and dot-org domains, those domains are constantly losing branding to their dot-com counterparts.”

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, in 2010 there were about 89.2 million dot-com domain registrations, making up roughly 71 percent of all domain registrations since 2001.

Opponents argue that businesses will have to rush out to purchase their own dot-anything domains to prevent abusive cybersquatting, a practice that involves registering a domain name in bad faith. Though Chandler noted that ICANN requires applicants to demonstrate their vested interest in the suffix and explain how they will operate the domain.

So how many brand suffixes should a company register?

“If a company does plan to register a dot-anything domain, it should be the dot-brand suffix,” Chandler said. “Registering anything else will only confuse consumers. People will expect to find information about McDonald’s Big Mac at bigmac.mcdonalds, not mcdonalds.bigmac.”

ICANN expects the dot-anything domain names to begin going live within about two years. They estimate that 400 to 1,000 domain suffixes will be approved.

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Grant Chandler

Pat Parkinson
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