In the not-too-distant future, .com, .net and the handful of other well-known gTLDs (Generic Top-Level Domains) may be sharing the spotlight with a whole lot of new ones.
That's because ICANN, the organization which runs the domain name system, is widely expect to move forward with its plans to loosen up the system, allowing just about any organization with the resources to apply for its own gTLD.
That could mean a flood of new gTLDs, ranging from .flowers to .pepsi to .xxx. ICANN's stated goal is to promote more competition, but many argue ICANN will simply promote confusion and legal headaches.
Time will tell, but assuming ICANN presses ahead, companies looking to register domains using new gTLDs (or gTLDs themselves) might want to first take a look at what's happening with .jobs.
Yes, .jobs is a real gTLD that already exists, and ICANN is threatening to shut it down. The reason: ICANN says that the operator of the .jobs registry, Employ Media, is failing "to operate and manage the .JOBS TLD in a manner consistent with the spirit and intention of the .JOBS registry and .JOBS Charter".
Employ Media, and a sponsoring organization, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), created .jobs for human resources professionals, but ICANN says that the actual registration policies essentially permit anyone to register a .jobs domain by paying $40 to become a member of SHRM.
Furthermore, ICANN alleges that Employ Media and SHRM "intend to use the .JOBS TLD primarily to compete with other internet job boards" through a related entity.
If the situation isn't rectified within 30 days, ICANN could shut the .jobs registry down, meaning that any legitimate owner of a .jobs domain is currently in a state of domain limbo.
This begs the question: if ICANN opens the floodgates and promotes the creation of potentially dozens, hundreds or thousands of new gTLDs, how can anyone, both domain registrants and gTLD operators, feel confident that what's happening with .jobs won't happen to them?
The answer: they can't, which should serve as a warning for individuals, businesses and brands itching to register new domains or operate their own gTLDs.
For better or worse, .com is still king, and as we've seen before, other domains may have some novelty factor, but they aren't always a safe bet. When it comes to new gTLDs, it might be worth assuming that the same is going to be true.