On Computers: Web domain names getting wider and wilder

Jim Hillibish

Just when you have figured out the .www, .com and .org of Web addresses, things are changing radically.

The problem is the same as with phone numbers. Internet domain addresses (the .coms, etc., appearing after the descriptive name) are running out. The fix is that in 2012, domains will increase exponentially as demand increases.

Here’s what will happen: “” may change to  “” (No .com needed.) Computer support at will become “” Vehicles might be “” or “”. And on and on.

The goal is to add naming possibilities, make them more precise and better organized.

When the Internet rolled out its present and overtaxed domain-name scheme, there was a gold rush to buy names for resale. That won’t happen this time as the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers will control the names. Of course, that’s only for the domain. We can expect some bidding for popular trademarks.

Here’s the biggest problem: If you want to start your own domain, it will cost you $185,000 to apply at ICANN.

For users, it means a lot of foreign-sounding domains in place of the now comfortable few. The names will be longer, and that means more typing and chances for mistakes.

ICANN says once users get accustomed to the system, they will find it more intuitive. Anyway, domains have become much less important. Most of us use bookmarks or saved links to sites. There’s little retyping of Web addresses.

This will trigger a change in e-mail addresses, which now are based on old domain names. Address-book lists suddenly will require editing.

As with phone-number changes, new domain names will make businesses cringe. The old Web address on ads, billboards, business cards, letterheads, everywhere, must be changed. No small expense here.

ICANN is democratic, so renaming will not be mandatory, at least until they cancel the old names. Success of the project will depend on user acceptance.

The names will be more fun. Right now, domain names only denote commercial, government, education, military and country. There’s a lot of ignored culture here. A city could buy its own domain name, making domains local. Likewise, a brand name could have its own domain name, further advertising the product.

So how many domains will there be? The possibilities are endless. ICANN already has warned it will be able to process 1,000 new domains a year.

This all is happening faster than you would think. ICANN in early 2011 will publish the final rules and begin accepting domain reservations. It’s a complex business. The draft standards are more than 300 pages.

ICANN recently tried an experiment in added domain names. They established .museum, .TV, .info, .biz. So far, they have been greeted with giant sighs of boredom among the website managers. The problem is changing old habits, never an easy quest with technology.

Contact Jim Hillibish at