What is a Top-Level Domain?

A domain extension is the suffix at the end of every web address. Also called a top-level domain (TLD), they are usually three or four letters long is the last segment of the domain name. The TLD is the letters immediately following the final dot in an Internet address.

The right-most label in a domain name (e.g. www.icann.org) is referred to as its "top-level domain" (TLD). TLDs with two letters have been established for over 240 countries and external territories and are referred to as "country-code" TLDs or "ccTLDs.". TLDs with three or more characters are referred to as "generic" TLDs, or "gTLDs."

The responsibility for operating each gTLD (including maintaining a registry of the domain names within thegTLD) is delegated to a particular organization. These organizations are referred to as "registry operators" or "sponsors."

Currently, the following gTLDs are operated under contract with ICANN: .aero, .biz, .cat, .com, .coop, .info, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .name, .net, .org, .pro, and .travel.

Generally speaking, an unsponsored gTLD Registry operates under policies established by the global Internet community directly through the ICANN process. .biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, .org, and .pro are unsponsored gTLDs.

A current listing of TLDs that are part of the authoritative root zone is always available at http://www.icann.or g/registries/top-level-domains.htm. If a TLD does not appear on this list, it will not be universally resolvable on the public Internet.

Original top-level domains

Seven generic top-level domains were created early in the development of the Internet, .com, .org, .net, .int, .edu, .gov and .mil which pre-date the creation of ICANN in 1998.

The Future of Domain Names

“Dot com” is more than a web address; it’s a symbol. Synonymous with the World Wide Web, “dot com” has been a common term since the Dot Com Bubble of last century, and it’s even defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

It’s no surprise, then, that .com is the most popular top-level domain (TLD) by far. One of seven original TLDs first developed in 1985 along with .gov, .org, and .edu, it’s remained synonymous with websites even as available domains have expanded beyond those seven.

With .com being so popular, many of the best names are taken, leaving companies to spend big bucks fighting over the rest. That’s why the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit in charge of maintaining Internet domain names and other unique identifiers, has been busy adding new TLDs in the past few years.

ICANN has trying to expand beyond .com in the past and today, ICANN is working to change the rules of TLD registrations, opening the floodgates to hundreds or even thousands of new TLDs in the next few years.

The new rules will allow companies to register their brand names as TLDs, meaning MSN could register .msn, or Apple could apply for a .mac TLD. The possible TLDs are only limited by your imagination… and your wallet.

ICANN’s new TLDs come with a hefty price tag. While you can snag a .com for under $10, applying to activate a brand-new TLD under ICANN’s new rules can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that’s just to start the evaluation and application process, which can take over a year.

Some companies are now snatching up as many new TLDs as they can, trusting that this investment will pay off soon: Once a company buys a new TLD, they effectively become a domain registrar, and can charge others to register their own domains using that TLD.

This new move by ICANN could drastically change the web, and possibly even overthrow .com’s reign at last. What will the future of the web look like with all these new registrars, and who will own all the new TLDs? Check out the details below. Since 1985, when the first .com name, symbolics.com, was purchased, domain names have been valuable pieces of “virtual real estate.” Until recently, the market has been relatively limited since most of the short and sweet, easy to remember domains are already owned. How is the market changing? Is the future of domain names already here? In 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved a plan to dramatically increase the amount of real estate available online by allowing web addresses to end with almost any word in any language. Under this scheme, major news network CNN could purchase the domain .cnn and place all of its coverage under domains at that extension, such as:

syria.cnn instead of cnn.com/syria
politics.cnn instead of cnn.com/politics
health.cnn instead of cnn.com/health

Beyond opening up a virtually endless supply of Internet real estate, this plan:

• Allows non-Roman characters in domains
• Users in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East can connect in their native languages.

May make the web more user-friendly and intuitive with options like:

adoptA.dog instead of PetAdoptions.com
buyA.camera instead of BuyCameras.com
Google and Amazon are in the game, too.

The two tech giants are competing on a number of extensions:

• .app
• .game
• .search

Google’s applications include:

• .goo
• .music
• .mom

Amazon’s applications include:

• .kindle
• .book
• .amazon – They almost lost .amazon to South American countries

According to Internet Domain Name Index, values compared to .com are:

• .net: -75%
• .org: -84%
• .info: -90%
• .mobi: -97%
• .biz: -96%
• .de: -37%
• .co.uk: -74%
• .es: -86%
• .eu: -81%

A Look at Today’s Domain Names
Daily Statistics for December 10, 2013:

• 148,264,184 total domains
• 112,103,754 .com
• 15,239,598 .net
• 10,405,768 .org
• 6,014,903 .info
• 2,646,999 .biz
• 1,854,162 .us
• 145,03 New domains
• 148,563 Transferred domains
• 105,432 Deleted domains

10 Most Expensive Domains (source Wikipedia)

• Insurance.com $35.6 million in 2010
• VacationRentals.com $35 million in 2007
• PrivateJet.com $30.18 million in 2012
• Internet.com $18 million in 2009
• 360.com $17 million in 2015
• Insure.com $16 million in 2009
• Fund.com 2008 £9.99 million
• Sex.com for $14 million in November 2014
• Hotels.com $11 million in 2001
• Porn.com 2007 $9.5 million

The new TLD story, Domain Names: The Gold Rush

From 1985 to 2013 when you wanted to register a domain name you had the following domain extensions’ choices:
1) A generic extension for your domain name such as .com or .net, or
2) a country code extension such as .fr and co.uk.

Since 2013 hundreds of new TLDs have appeared. You can now get real word extensions on the right side of the dot such as .marketing, .club, .guru, .golf,
.london etc

Marketers have never had a better way to communicate with a web address. The only limit is your own creativity. The biggest gold rush since the creation of the internet is in full swing. The creation of new top-level domains is the largest expansion of the internet ever, opening up a new world of opportunity to stake a claim to newly available names that will be immensely valuable in the future. The land grab for virtual real estate is back, and this time it is millions of times larger. Domain names are the real estate of the internet.

In the early days of the internet, some enterprising individuals realized that having a strong domain name was extremely valuable for attracting and keeping customers online. A company’s domain name is both the sign hanging outside of its store, and also the directions for how to get there.

What followed was a truly insane domain name gold rush. Speculators bought everything in sight. There was no domain too obscure, no random series of letters that wasn’t worth acquiring for peanuts. The few that would resell for tens of thousands, even millions of dollars, would justify millions of domains purchased for nothing. And in the meantime even little-known domains might yield a little ad revenue, which when multiplied by millions of domains adds up to a significant profit.

Major-league domain name speculators like Kevin Ham and Mike Mann bought millions of domains at blistering speeds, buying domains in bulk for nothing, and reselling for tens of thousands of dollars soon after. Mann recounts that in 1998 that he bought “menus.com” for $70, and the next day he received an offer for $25,000, and the day after, $50,000. Seldom in history has anyone ever made such ridiculous profits so easily and so quickly. Before long, almost every possible domain was owned by someone, either a person or company using the domain name to host a website, or someone looking to turn a quick profit by selling the domain.

Many domain names are worth more than actual land. In 2007 the domain name “VacationRentals.com” sold for $35 million. While that sounds like a large number, consider domain names like “google.com” or “amazon.com” and how much such a domain name might be worth.

To own a domain name is to own a series of letters. On the internet that domain name is unique, giving its owner an incredible amount of power by strategically controlling certain words. For example, the buyer of “VacationRentals.com” primarily purchased the domain to keep it out of the hands of Expedia.

The strategy of acquiring domain names has had a huge impact on web-based companies. Many of the unusually named services on the web selected their product names to get an inexpensive domain name. Sites like “flickr.com,” “reddit.com” and “del.icio.us” selected a unique and inexpensive name knowing that common words would be expensive. The websites these companies built on their domains then drew people to the domain, and thus the traffic and name recognition made those domains valuable despite their humble beginnings.

But the entire mad gold rush of the original internet took place on only a handful of top-level domains; primarily the “.com” TLD that gave the “dot-com bubble” its name.

ICANN’s new gTLD program will enable any string to be used, not just “.com” or “.net.” And that means every name is now up for grabs again. Only this time there isn’t just one of each- it is possible to obtain a registration for every name under every possible gTLD.

ICANN began accepting applications for new gTLDs on January 12, 2012. The gold rush was on.

What are you waiting for?