Branded domain names could be available as early as 2009 through ICANN. There will be financial and technical requirements that must be met by anyone applying for their own top-level domain. In fact, it’s being speculated that these new domains could cost at least $100,000. Instead of .com or .org and so on, you might start seeing websites with branded domains such as .McDonalds or .Microsoft by 2010.
When you think about it, a $100,000 price tag is nothing in comparison to the brand value that a branded domain offers. It seems like a simple decision for companies to make – invest in your branded domain ASAP!
Some people are arguing that branded domains will add to the online confusion that consumers face when they’re looking for websites, but I disagree. I think branded top-level domains are a major coup for companies and consumers. Other people are arguing that companies won’t be interested in branded top-level domains because they’ve already invested time and money in creating their existing domain names. Again, I think the benefits outweigh the investments.
I should mention that top-level domains will also be available for non-branded sites. In other words, anyone who can afford the price and meets the financial and technical requirements might be able to get a top-level domain. For example, it’s been reported that interest has already been shown in .sports. This is where I do have to agree that confusion could occur and the usefulness of top-level domains might get watered down. If top-level domains don’t offer a useful experience and deliver what consumers expect from them, then they won’t be anymore helpful than .com or .net domain extensions.
What do you think? Are branded top-level domains the next phase of the internet and online branding or is this an idea that won’t live up to the hype? Leave a comment and share your opinion.
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