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Do We Need The New Top-level Domains?

After a long and exhaustive process it was finally decided by ICANN to introduce seven new top level domains in December. Well, they are not really introduced yet because the United States Government has the final word and they have not approved of them yet. Did you understand what I just wrote - the United States Government decides what names you can have on the Internet?

I think there are more people than me that think it is kind of 'awkward' that one government can decide what names the whole world can have on a computer network. ICANN is already lacking support from the Internet community, and this process is making it even worse. The Internet has been built up by individuals all around the planet, and to say that a government in one country automatically has more decision-making rights than the others is unjust.

So, what new domains were decided to be introduced? Well, the most obvious domain, .web, that many support (and a domain that people since 1996 have been investing in) was not introduced. Another popular choice, .sex, was not introduced either. It seems to me that ICANN is frightened to make bold decisions, so they went with .biz, .aero, .coop, .names, .museum, .pro, and .info.

These new top level domains are second hand choices and are considered to be a test-bed for the introduction of another rollout of new Top Level Domains (TLD's). What this means is that in one or maybe two years ICANN will introduce maybe 50, 100, or 500 new top level domains. And this time ICANN is just using all of us Internet users as guinea pigs to see how we react.

I think ICANN has made a politically correct decision, but for Internet users it is a decision that will have little or no impact at all. Every one of the new holders of TLD's are hoping to make millions from us when we feel compelled to register our business names again. Maybe we should just ignore the whole thing.

The new TLD's don't add enough value to make them worth considering for established internet businesses. We already have our valuable .com's and other extensions, and they will not diminish in value. They will most likely only increase in value as these next generation TLD's get unveiled because of the established 'first mover' factor. And most likely, the people that will be interested in these new domains are partly those who will speculate in generic names like music.info, and people who are establishing new businesses.

Maybe you're saying to yourself that music.info is an okay domain and you should try and get it… yeah maybe — but only maybe. Those who have invested in domains already know that the easy money ain't that easy. We've had a tremendous period behind us, but the signs right now are showing that there are more domains out there than there is a need for in a long period of time.

And if I am a really serious player I would hesitate more than once to invest in one of the new TLD's without having the .com already. If I buy Europe.info and invest millions of dollars in building a site and promoting it, I can almost guarantee that the big winner will be Europe.com who will automatically receive visitors from everyone who hasn�t heard of the new domains — only the marketing for Europe.

We also have the disappointing experiences from people who have invested in domains like business.com and searchengines.com. Have these sites, after a year of their launches, been a huge success? They are doing what they can, but besides getting some visitors their businesses do not yet look like a success.

The Internet has come to a point where it takes many things to succeed, and the new TLD's will not solve any of these problems, they will probably only increase them. The ultimate domain name system wouldn't have any dots. In my optimal domain name system I would have written "turkey" and only one site would show up - and all confusion would be gone. But as always, the ideal world is not the real world so we will all have to do our best within the system that we now have.

By Lennart Svanberg, Internet Marketing Professional
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