The world is getting a first glimpse today into what the future of the web may look like. And it's competitive.
This morning, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers -- the nonprofit group that manages the web's infrastructure -- unveiled all applications for new web address suffixes, called generic top-level domains, or gTLDs. ICANN received 1,930 applications in total; check out the full list.
The Great Domain Battle: Amazon, Google Both Want 21 gTLDs
While many new gTLDs will be uncontested (for example, Apple was the only entity to apply for .Apple), dozens of them are highly contested. The new gTLD with the most competition appears to be ".app," for which ICANN received 13 applications, with Google and Amazon among the applicants. Garnering 11 applications each were ".inc" and ".home." Other highly sought after gTLDs include ".shop" with nine applicants and ".music" with eight; both Google and Amazon applied for each. In fact, it appears that Google and Amazon will be competing against each other for at least 21 new gTLDs. And Google has applied for 101 new gTLDs in total.
So what happens when more than one group or company applies for the same gTLD (or "string," as ICANN refers to it)? ICANN first asks each of the applicants to try to come to an agreement between themselves. In some cases, cooperation may be feasible. ICANN may also give priority to an application deemed to be representing a community rather than a straight business interest. But in the likely event that an agreement isn't reached between parties and that "community" preference doesn't emerge, competition for the gTLD may move to an auction.
Companies and other organizations have seven months to object to domain applications for one of four reasons, which include objections for legal reasons as well as confusion with existing gTLDs or other gTLDs that were applied for in this new round.
ICANN has said that it anticipates the evaluation process to take at least nine months for new gTLDs. In the case of contested gTLDs, the process could take 20 months or longer, ICANN says. So in a best-case scenario, the first gTLDs wouldn't roll out until next year. It still remains to be seen whether the influx of new gTLDs will lead to great innovation on the web, or just a windfall for domain registries.