Today, we celebrate an exciting milestone in the evolution of the domain name system – more than 1,000 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) from the 2012 application window have been introduced into the internet. There are nearly 50 times as many gTLDs as there were in 2013 when the first four applications completed the New gTLD Program. This expansion is contributing to choice, competition and innovation in the domain name industry.
The expansion of the domain name system to more than 1,000 gTLDs signifies greater diversity in how people and businesses can represent themselves online. It enables communities, cities and brands to more closely align their digital and real-world identities. It's also helping to redefine the internet experience for people across the globe by introducing internationalized generic top-level domains for the first time. These users can now navigate within internationalized gTLDs and consume content entirely in local writing systems, or scripts.
In addition to providing consumers with greater choice, new gTLDs are enhancing competition in the domain name industry. The opportunity to manage a piece of online real estate inspired individuals and organizations to start new companies, while existing registry operators sought to expand their product lines. And big brands entered the industry to gain more control over their web presences or to branch out into this emerging market.
Competition and choice have been accompanied by innovation, as new registries and registrants look to differentiate themselves using new gTLDs. Some registry operators are requiring that registrants demonstrate possession of professional certifications or licensing in order to register and maintain a domain name. Certain brands are operating their namesake gTLDs in a closed manner, meaning that no one outside of the company and its partners can register a domain name. The potential benefit of restricting registration in these ways is that a company can signal to consumers that websites in its TLD are legitimate sources for products and information related to an industry or brand. On the registrant side, professional sports teams are hosting their websites on new gTLDs that match the cities they represent. Celebrities are building social networks on new gTLD domains for their fan clubs, and businesses are using new gTLDs for sites specific to marketing campaigns. Over the past year, ICANN has been working with new gTLD registry operators to document these types of use cases. Read our new gTLD case studies to learn more.
The true potential of the new online real estate will reveal itself over the next few years as consumer awareness of new gTLDs continues to rise. On behalf of the entire ICANN team I would like to congratulate and thank everyone in the ICANN community and beyond who participated in the development and implementation of the New gTLD Program. Your commitment and service has laid the foundation for a more robust domain name industry and a more inclusive, global internet.