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Hypothetical Pie Chart Trends

These pie charts attempt to illustrate the domain sphere as it was in 2013 and how it might possibly evolve, say, seven years later.

(They are intended to illustrate hypothetical concepts without any attempt at precision. The percentages in the 2013 chart below are simply made up without any research at all. That isn't the point. Imagine the segments represent an amalgamation of the value of commerce, volume of traffic and the number of registrations on those domain classifications. After all, the purpose is simply to imagine possible trends...)

Under this hypothesis, the web undergoes massive expansion and the number of categories expands from three to six with the addition of the .brands, the .cities — and the closed generics...

pie charts showing future trends


The chart has three categories: country code domains, generic domains, and .com (also a generic but in a category of its own due to its formidable dominance).

Note: .TV and .CO, technically speaking, are country code domains, but are mostly used as generics.

2020 (?)

The new domains have arrived...

The chart now has six categories — with the addition of the dot brand and dot city domains — and the closed generics.

Perhaps the most significant thing is that the .com domain is about to go from having only a handful of serious competitors to hundreds of competitors. There is a real likelihood that the collective volume of all the new gtlds combined will one day rival .com.

It's the sheer volume of the new domains that is the key.

It's not that implausible to say 100 of the new extensions might achieve one million registrations each (on average.) If that happens, then collectively, they will have equalled .com (in number of registrations, not in the value of commerce transacted on them.)

It's still plausible that the .com and country code strings will continue moderate growth over the period, let's say 10% year-on-year. It's also plausible that the new gTLDs grow far faster from their albeit zero base (and become collectively formidable due to the sheer volume of 1,000 extensions)... And it's also very likely that the dot brands explode due to the billions about to be spent by Madison Avenue. The internet is about to get bigger.

Some of the official applications for new gTLDs reveal the intentions of some of the world's largest corporations to spend big on development and publicity.

...But above all, don't listen to anyone who says they know what will happen — including me. Man, there are gonna be some real surprises.

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The .co Registry Paradigm


While technically the .co string is a ccTLD (country code top level domain) it was successfully relaunched as a de facto gTLD. This was because of its coincidental resemblance to the popular abbreviation for "company" or "commerce". (It was originally solely intended to be the ccTLD for the country of Colombia).

With the most sophisticated and innovative marketing campaign that has ever been launched for a domain string so far, the .co registry has created a registration density of well over a million domains with a high renewal rate (so far).

The campaign was considered so successful that the .net registry even appeared to be belatedly emulating it in a 2012 campaign. The .co campaign has become a sort of textbook example of how to launch a new domain string. This model is sure to be emulated by some of the registries for the influx of new domains.

I will be greatly surprised if some of the new strings like .web don't emulate and surpass the success of .co.

If 100 new registries are this successful, we will be talking about exceeding 100 million new domain names.


So we come to the period of the rollout of more than one thousand gTLDs. This is unprecedented. While a great many of these proposed new domain strings are small niche categories (lacking the versatility of the .co string) — the sheer volume of new domain categories that are coming is very significant.

While market forces will act to strongly constrict the collective volume of registrations across the spectrum of the new domains (who will be the customers, after all?) nevertheless a massive increase in new domains is both plausible and likely.

Imagine hypothetically if 1,000 new domain strings achieved a million registrations or more, then the number of new domains would number around one billion. Which would be ten times larger than the .com registry (by volume, not value).

As stated, market forces will prevent those kinds of numbers from eventuating — the demand simply does not exist for that scale of domain infrastructure — but on the other hand, a number north of 100 million for the new gTLDs does not sound unbelievable.

A number which might collectively eclipse the existing number of .com domain names in a decade, or sooner. As speculated on the Brand Domains page, the number of websites on the internet is likely to undergo a massive increase.

Who will all these customers be? There will likely be an explosion of new customers following the publicity, but there will also be an explosion of multiple domain implementations by companies. As an example, L’Oréal's .beauty application announces plans for 10,000 dot beauty websites owned by L’Oréal. That statement of intent could be a harbinger of what is to come. Read more on the Beauty string page.

As we can extrapolate from L'Oréal's plan, many other companies will likely shift from a handful of domains to 100 or 10,000 or much more.

Amazon has applied for no less than 76 domain strings. Their internet plans likely call for millions of websites to be created if they succeed in obtaining exclusive ownership of the .shop and .store domain strings — and many more. Read more on the Store string page.

The Dot Com Habit

Many of us, in 2013, surf the web almost entirely on .com domains, including me. But that habit may soon be broken...

In 2020, let's say you wake up in New York, and it looks cloudy outside.

So you check

The forecast is good, so you order a cab on

You've been thinking lately about buying a new camera, so you look at and find the model you like.

You also check, just in case there's an offer available... You're in luck... Looks like has a good deal in your area.

Suddenly you remember your credit card is about to expire, so you go to to update it.

On your way to Macys, you see a billboard for Home.Insurance, so you decide to check it out on the smartphone. Easy domain to remember, that — "Home.Insurance", unforgettable really.

Staring at your phone, you start thinking, wow, I bought that old model way back in 2017. Time to go to

The possibilities are endless...





The Future

Given that the .com string is universally acknowledged to be the domain gold standard, it's hard to imagine a different future. The current situation is so unpredictable and unprecedented that I'm only prepared to make hypothetical speculations here, not predictions.

pull quote graphicDomain names have a similar power and invincibility as trademarks...

They weren't allowed to trademark words like news, games, shop, home and music. So they are going after the next best thing — .news, .games, .shop, .home and .music. Domain names that in their innate exclusivity act like virtual trademarks.

The combined impact of the new domain extensions and current non dot com strings could challenge or erode the present dominance of the dot com domains. This is illustrated in the hypothetical pie charts at left. But the magnitude of the impact of the coming domain name explosion is anyone's guess really.

Currently, the .com string is many times more valuable than the sum total of all its rivals. However, it is also plausible that once 1,000 new domain extensions are created, their combined value could in turn eclipse the .com domains. The new domains are coming.

Domains Act As Trademarks

Since I wrote the above, a number of objections on the ICANN closed generics forum have also raised the compelling trademark issue, for example:

"Domain names can function like trademarks as source identifiers. This will be especially so with the launch of numerous new gTLDs. Many domain name owners in fact use their domain names as a trademark. The view that domain names are mere addresses with no source-identifying function is a relic of the exclusive .com era.

"...if only one member of an industry could use the online designation matching a generic term, others in that industry are likely to suffer a competitive disadvantage in the online world. Such a result would cause difficulties for competitors as well as hardship for consumers, who might not realize what product the competitors are selling because it does not carry its common name. It would, therefore, be inequitable to grant exclusive use of the .app top level domain name, for example, to a single industry player to the exclusion of all others."

That's the expert opinion of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. Read more on the ICANN Forum 1 and other forum pages.

Then there's the opinion of Professor J Thomas McCarthy, one of the world's foremost authorities on trademarks, with David J Franklyn:

"Transparency and consumer choice are goals of the trademark system of every country in the world. In our view, these values are threatened by closed, generic gTLDs. Indeed, should these types of new gTLDs be approved, consumers may mistakenly believe they are using a gTLD that allows for competition, when in reality the gTLD is closed and the apparently competitive products are being offered by a single entity. This would allow the owner of the generic gTLD to gain exclusive recognition as the provider of a generic service, something that is prohibited by Trademark law."

Read more on the ICANN Forum 2 page.

As you can see, permitting closed generic TLDs will circumvent trademark law.

Rise Of The Dot Brands

Many of the Fortune 500 companies have applied for their own brand TLD. In a fascinating interview at highly respected blog DomainSherpa, Xavier Buck of EuroDNS hypothesizes that a massive growth in domain registration and implementation will follow from the new domain releases. While he is personally somewhat sceptical about the non-brand strings, he is remarkably bullish about the dot brands.

Speculation about the impact and ramifications of the dot brands (and more about the thought provoking Xavier Buck interview) is presented on the Brand Domains page.

As stated, .com is the gold standard of domains. But if billions of dollars are spent on dot brand marketing, the 'tipping point for acceptance' could well be passed... A private dot brand could well become de rigueur for any leading edge corporation. To not have one's dot brand would appear "small time", old fashioned and inferior. The brand domains could become a very significant addition to the scope of the internet.

new domain sampleWhile L'Oréal's application for the .beauty string isn't a "brand" in the traditional sense, many of the pending new domain names will serve like virtual brands. So a domain like could be heavily marketed and branded, and since only one entity can own such a name, it would in effect become an exclusive "brand" in its own right. No trademark required — because trademark law is circumvented. See also the six "ICANN Forum" pages for various expert opinions about trademarks.

Closed gTLDs like .beauty have the potential for creating unfair monopolies in many significant industries.

See also the dot beauty page.

The Domain is the Brand is the Trademark.

L'Oréal's application says they intend to deploy around 10,000 .beauty domains for their own use (with none to be sold to competitors). This real, official statement of intention gives an insight into the possible plans of the many companies who have applied for their own domain strings. (Especially since Super Monopolies admits to only having read a small number of relevant application documents so far.)

Companies like Apple, Bridgestone, Fedex, Google, Heinz, IBM, Microsoft, Philips, Shell and Sony to name just a handful of the hundreds. If these companies roll out thousands of new websites comensurate with L'Oréal's .beauty plan, then we are about to see hundreds of thousands of new sites, backed by most of the world's largest and wealthiest corporations. Backed by many of the world's most effective and experienced marketers and advertising agencies. It's hard to imagine the impact won't be massive. Unimaginable really.,,,,

Actually that's a trend I don't mind predicting will be popular — company slogan + dot + brand...

Oh What A Feeling + Toyota =

When it comes to the brand domains, the haves will spare no opportunity to leverage their advantage over the have nots. This window of opportunity will probably last for around three years. Then a new round of applications for TLDs starts.

Tipping Point

There is no chance of .com being surpassed as a TLD by a single rival in the next decade or two, but I do expect to see wide acceptance of a multitude of new strings. The sheer volume of the new domains is enormous. And the demand is similarly enormous. Imagine the impact of Google spending tens of millions of dollars promoting some new "essential" service on .search, for example. Something so compelling that we all go daily to for example. Imagine if Google comes up with some new "have-to-have" service called Now imagine if Google relentlessly advertises this service across their vast network and on YouTube too. These ads are free to the owners, but for anyone else, they might cost $50m. So Google's potential ad campaign could be worth $50m for example, though they wouldn't be actually spending the cash. Add another $20m ad spend on other peoples' networks. Hundreds of scenarios like these involving other leading global corporations will surely drive public acceptance of the new gTLDs.

How could most of the Fortune 500 be wrong — how did they become the Fortune 500 in the first place?

new domain sampleOr imagine some completely new as-yet-undreamed of website ~ the next Facebook, the next Instagram ~ that launches on a new domain string. As it becomes harder if not impossible to obtain a "killer" dot com domain for the latest start-up, maybe the next Steve Jobs or Sergey Brin will launch the next-big-thing on a name like Go.web, backed by $20m from some adventurous VC.

Some incredible cool new must-have service, that if I knew what it was — well I wouldn't mention it here!

And for US readers, don't forget that people in most other countries are quite used to using domains other than .com, the USA is about the only country that hasn't closely embraced it's own string — .US

What will be the first million dollar new gTLD domain? There will be many, many contenders, from to to to to I would bet on Life.Insurance though it will likely never make it onto the open market. I won't even mention the adult names...

new domain sampleSince a traditional name like sold for around $3m, why wouldn't an even more intuitive name like sell for seven figures one day? Anything is possible on the internet. Could it one day even surpass in value?

The new domains are coming. The tipping point may be about to be passed.

Gold Rush

The net is young in historical terms, just one generation old. The rise of the domain investment industry has often been likened to a gold rush, like those that occurred more than 100 years ago in Australia and California. And among the 22 non country code domains that came to exist in the first 25 years of the web, the .com string came to represent the "gold standard". Top names like were and are worth millions and sold for millions.

The internet has also often been compared to the "wild west" — which resonates well with the gold rush model of the domain name market. And partly due to good luck (but mainly due to a general lack of foresight about what was to come) the web evolved into a reasonably fair network. More than 2,000 registries sell domain names to millions of buyers around the world, and access is arguably reasonably fair.

Luckily, it took years for people to realize the value of domain names. And it took years for dot com to emerge as the gold standard of domains. So in the early days, domain names distributed themselves more or less fairly in accordance with the actual needs of those who registered them. There were no domain investors in the early days to vacuum them up en masse. But it's different now...

The lessons are there to see.

But ICANN can't see it. They are permitting applications for closed registries on words that belong equally and justly to every citizen of the world.

No trademark office in the world will permit you to trademark the word Shop® but ICANN is allowing Amazon to apply for sole ownership of every single .shop domain in the world — which is effectively the same thing.

In the 1880s, 200,000 prospectors were able to search for gold in Sovereign Hill at Ballarat, Australia where the world's richest ever gold lode was discovered. But back to the future in 2013, instead of issuing 200,000 prospecting licences for some domain strings, ICANN will only issue one. This is a valid analogy. ICANN is selling off entire goldfields to some of the world's largest corporations, who will then set up private walls around them.

ICANN has failed to learn the lessons of history and will likely preside over the rise of super monopolies in the domain name system. The proven wisdom of the separation of registry, registrar and registrant is being discarded. We may be witnesses to the dawn of the private internets. Once they have formed, they will be unprecedented and very, very powerful.



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au time logo — A hypothetical analysis of the new top level domain names — coming in 2013-14.



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