On the Internet, .com is about to get some more company. Seven new Web domains including .bike, .guru and .clothing are scheduled to be released Wednesday, the first of hundreds of online address extensions expected to become available over the next few years.
The rollout is being called one of the biggest changes to ever hit the Internet as companies and individuals gain access to a wider variety of domains that could better reflect their business type or the products they sell. Instead of "TwoWheels.com," a bike shop could obtain "TwoWheels.bike" as its website address.
"If you think about the history of the Internet and the history of domains, this is pretty massive," said James Cole, a spokesman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which reviews and approves applications for new extensions. "It could potentially affect every Internet user."
People can purchase new Web addresses via registrars such as GoDaddy, Network Solutions and Name.com. Many already allow interested buyers to preregister for new addresses.
The vast majority will sell for $10 to $40 a year, although there will be some that command a premium price, such as those containing .luxury, which will cost at least $800 when it becomes available this year, said Mike McLaughlin, vice president and general manager of domains at GoDaddy.
Others will start off in the thousands of dollars to take advantage of initial demand before being lowered in price.
GoDaddy is expecting a rush of buyers and already has 25 extensions available for preregistration. So far, "thousands and thousands" of people have preregistered, with .guru and .photography endings being the most popular, McLaughlin said.
"Domain names are real estate of the Internet, and new land has just been opened up. So getting to stake your claim early is obviously better," he said. The influx of domains will "fundamentally change how people navigate the Internet, with names that are much more meaningful and targeted."
The company will soon begin preregistrations for Web addresses ending in .app, .blog, .online and .shop, among others.
Several small-business owners around Los Angeles said they hadn't heard of the new domains but were intrigued by the idea of obtaining a more specific Web extension.
"When the time is right in the future, we'll probably switch" to a .bike address, said Manny Sosa, manager of El Maestro bicycle shop in downtown L.A. "I think it's a really good idea. It makes sense."
There are currently 22 generic top-level domain extensions, with the most popular by far being .com. Roughly 110 million addresses end in .com, out of 265 million domain names registered globally, according to Verisign Inc.
The four other extensions scheduled to be released on Wednesday are .holdings, .plumbing, .singles and .ventures. Others that are coming soon include .construction, .menu and .technology.
That's just the beginning.
Los Angeles-based ICANN said it has received 1,930 applications for new domain extensions in the past two years. The nonprofit agency has so far approved 107, Cole said.
Large corporations have also applied for their own domain extensions, such as .google, .apple, .nike and .cartier.
Despite the impending influx of new domains, not every business is interested in making a switch.
Many people noted that the dominance of .com made other extensions seem less legitimate and said changing addresses would be a marketing hassle.
Brent Han, manager at Safety Cycle, said he had "zero interest" in buying a .bike Web address. The bicycle shop, with locations in Hollywood and Torrance, Calif., has been using SafetyCycle.com for nearly a decade.
"Everyone's so used to .com," Han said. "I'm pretty sure if I said our website is SafetyCycle.bike, if they didn't write it down they would assume it was .com. I don't think there's any benefit to that."
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