The name game: New web domain names hit the market

The name game: New web domain names hit the market

Feb 8th 2014 | From the print edition

AFTER the dotcom boom of the 1990s, the world is about to experience a boom in dots. Over 1,000 new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) are set to join the 22 existing ones, such as .com and .org, and the 280 country-specific ones, such as .uk, that now grace the end of web addresses. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit organisation that manages the web’s address book, reckons this will boost competition and innovation. It will also increase the cost to businesses of protecting their brands.

Some of the new gTLDs, such as .guru and .sexy, will flatter owners’ egos. Others, such as .clothing and .photography, will be used by firms to tout their wares. Among the first to go live, on February 4th, was “.web” written in Arabic script. That made history: until now all generic top-level domains have been written in Latin lettering, meaning internet users with Arabic keyboards had to wrestle with ALT, CTRL and the like to type the last few letters of most websites’ names. Other gTLDs in scripts such as Chinese and Russian will follow in the coming months.

Firms including Apple, Ford and IWC, a watchmaker, have already applied to register their names as gTLDs. That will allow them to ensure they are not used by crooks or cybersquatters. Google, Amazon and others have applied for numerous gTLDs, including .app and .kindle, presumably because they want to use them and think they can make money by selling the right to use “second-level” domains (for example,, typically for $10-50 a year. Firms may also be keen to buy certain second-level domains to stop them falling into the wrong hands. Donuts, a company that has lodged hundreds of applications for gTLDs, has .wtf and .sucks on its list.

But there are costs to owning a gTLD. Firms must pay $185,000 to ICANN when applying for one, plus $25,000 for each year they use it. Deciding which ones to splash out on is tricky. New domains including .biz and .mobi have been added in the past, but have failed to put a dent in the wildly popular .com (see chart).


The avalanche of new domains may also confuse web users, who often get to their destinations via search engines rather than by typing web addresses into browsers. Greater choice and competition should eventually bring them benefits. But the transition may be .complicated.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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