There is a lot of talk and debate about the new gTLD program set out by ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).

They have given the go ahead so that brands and organisations can create their own gTLD.

Firstly, what is a gTLD?

A gTLD, short for generic Top Level Domain, is the extension appended to the end of a domain name such as .com, .gov, .org, .info, .museum, etc.

In a stricter sense, at present, there are only a few gTLDs that exist, see Wikipedia. Geographic-related domains such as a co.uk, .org.uk or a .eu are classed as ccTLDs (country code Top Level Domains).

ICANN is an international non-profit organisation for overseeing, maintaining and allocating the Internet’s addressing system.; with regards to domains they are the official body for handling new and existing gTLD domains.

So what is a New gTLD?

A New gTLD is the term ICANN have used for their new program for creating custom gTLDs. So, possibly, we could be seeing domains ending in .coke or .apple at the end of the year.

It is an expensive process which requires an initial deposit costing $5,000. The deposit is for ICANN to evaluate whether the proposed gTLD put forward is suitable.

The evaluation period can take anywhere between 9 to 20 months dependent on the usage and other conflicts that could arise.

If approved then a further $180,000 is needed for fulfilment.

Owning your own gTLD, in total, costs $185,000. However, the total excludes running costs for handling and maintaining a custom gTLD – something else prospectors might have to think about it.

New gTLDs will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. If two or more applicants apply for the same name during the evaluation process then ICANN will compare applicants against a set of criteria and award points for each criterion the applicant is suitable for. The candidate with the most points wins the gTLD.

So are there any pitfalls?

Apart from the domains being so expensive, fit only for the corps, there are a couple other issues which the new gTLDs might present:

1. Visitors being unable to remember the domain.
It might be hard enough to remember the new TLD itself but what about the rest of the URL. For instance, if the gTLD was .apple, would you type in apple.apple to find the home page? New conventions might be needed.

2. Lengthy trademark disputes/issues.
With big companies comes a lot of litigation. We’ve seen in the past big companies fight over domain names, so we should see a repeat over the next year or so.

You can read more about ICANN’s New gTLD program and below is a video from TechCrunch with an interview with Esther Dyson, the founding chairperson of ICANN, with her thoughts on the matter.