Naming Rights

The Wall Street Journal:

Next year, the organization that oversees the Internet will start selling rights to an unlimited number of new top-level domains — the suffixes like .com that appear at the end of Web-site names.

Domains likely to appear include those that take their names from popular subjects, types of businesses and geographic locations, such as .books, .flowers and .nyc.

The good news for small businesses is that if a company currently has a .com address that is cumbersome or hard to remember, like, it may soon get a shot at a new address that’s identical to the name of the company, or one that is just easier to find on the Web — say, or

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, plans to sell the new domains for prices starting at $100,000, which is likely to start bidding wars for the most popularly sought domains — and to limit the bidding to parties with deep pockets.

But those purchasers will then turn around and sell the rights to subaddresses within their new domains — addresses ending with, say, .books or .flowers — for far less; in most cases, around $50 a year, experts say.

Industry insiders and observers agree that .com is still the Boardwalk and Park Place of the Internet. Because it’s the best-known top-level domain, even proponents of the new suffixes say that in a perfect world, a small business should sign up for a .com Web site with its name. The problem is, so many .com addresses are already taken — about 80 million of them.

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