Why the New Top Level Internet Domains Are Pointless

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is presenting another 1410 proposals for top level domains, the final "dot-something" suffix at the end of Internet domain names (details in the Guardian). These proposals still have to be discussed and voted, so many will not actually be adopted, but any addition to the 300 or so top-level domains already in use is largely a waste of time today, for three reasons:

1. HOW OFTEN DO YOU TYPE ADDRESSES ANYWAY?  Most of the time when I visit websites i am not typing anything, I am just following links. They might be links on a social media page, in an email or in some document. Be honest. how many of you reached this page by typing in the address? If the server stats are to be trusted most of you clicked on social media links and the rest came through search engines.

2.EVEN IF YOU DO YOU DON'T NEED THE COMPLETE ADDRESS. Modern browsers have a single window for typing addresses and searching. This means that if you type in the first part of a domain name it will usually suggest the rest before you get to the top level domain suffix at the end. Nobody types http://guardian.co.uk anymore since "guardian" is usually enough.

3.MEMORABLE URLs ARE LARGELY IRRELEVANT IN THE TWENTY-ONETIES. Most people today are reaching websites by following a link or by searching. The rest will be arriving through Siri and it's rivals. Others are not even going to visit your website as mobile apps replace pc-centric technology. In this scenario people are not going to need to remember your URL any more than they need to remember your phone number,.so having a cool URL is about as relevant as having a memorable IP address, an easy-to-remember phone number or, going back a few more years, a telegraphic address.

ICANN is selling top level domains for an initial fee of $180,000 plus a stiff annual fee. It is hard to see what purpose adding dozens of new top-level domains can serve except to generate more revenue. Businesses dislike them intensely because they are foced to register multiple domains for brand protection -- if you register a domain like acme.cola you have to register also acmecola.com to stop others squattng there or to deal with the people who just assume you have a .com address. More domains just means more brand protection headaches, more work and more expense -- all for an address that no longer has any value.


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