June 2, 2012

Google Wants You To .LOL When You’re Surfing The Web

Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com

Navigating the Web is easy. As it stands, there are only a few extensions in the Top Level Domain (TLD): The common .com, .edu, .net, .tv, and the like. Domains in other countries use extensions such as .co.uk. Now, Google, as well as several other internet companies are sending in their applications to ICANN for the right to add some new TLDs, increasing diversity on the web and offering them some more flexibility.

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a private, non-profit organization which most closely resembles an actual governing body for the wild wild Internet. Just before the deadline, Google sent in more than 50 applications for new TLDs which will fall under 4 categories. Some of these TLDs which Google applied for are .google, .docs, and .youtube. The most interesting of these TLDs, of course, is .lol. For those not well-versed in Internet parlance, “LOL” is an acronym for “Laughing Out Loud.”

Google says they chose to apply for .lol because they think it has “interesting and creative potential.

Google paid good money for these applications, as each TLD they applied for carried a $185,000 application fee, according to Ad Age.

ICANN had been taking applications for more than a month before today´s deadline. Google kept their applications under wraps, waiting until the deadline to submit them so as to maintain secrecy and avoid any rival bids.

In the future, new TLDs could simplify web addresses as well as unify entire brands. For instance, instead of typing www.youtube.com/redorbit, the website could instead be www.redorbit.youtube.

“We´re just beginning to explore this potential source of innovation on the web, and we are curious to see how these proposed new TLDs will fare in the existing TLD environment,” writes Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist on the Google Blog.

“By opening up more choices for Internet domain names, we hope people will find options for more diverse–and perhaps shorter–signposts in cyberspace.”

For being a non-profit organization, ICANN cleaned up during this application process, gathering more than 1,900 applications. At $185,000 a piece, the grand total in application fees tops $350 million. In addition, ICANN will also be earning a $25,000 annual fee for each new suffix created once they are fully operational next year.

According to the Telegraph, not everyone is as happy as Google about this news. For instance, once these TLDs are open for everyone, the possibility for future trademark disputes opens up considerably. Furthermore, as the web continues to open, cyber criminals are given more chances to inflict harm on others. While ICANN is taking applications for generic TLDs, organizations such as Google have also applied for TLDs specific to their brand names. ICANN has said they have designed a process to make sure these large companies will have access to these brand specific TLDs, rather than have them open to anyone who can buy them, incurring all sorts of legal hassles.

ICANN will release a full list of TLDs on June 13th. According to the Telegraph, other companies have applied for .bank, .cloud, .global and .music.