Around the 1990s up until the early 2000s, a great tide of innovation took over the traditional commerce industry. Many people remember it as the Dot-Com bubble. It was during this time that many businesses started transitioning to the world wide web, a then untapped market. This is also the era we have started adding the letter "e" (for electronic) in e-commerce—a concept so unusual at the time yet so familiar for our current tech-savvy generation. Think about it, when was the last time you picked up an Amazon order from your front porch?
The radical change in consumer behavior brought about by the internet enticed many entrepreneurs and business goliaths to explore the potential of e-commerce. As a result, the scant 130 websites online in 1993 has exploded to just shy of reaching the 2 billion mark at the moment of this blog's writing. You can view the live count for yourself right here (internetlivestats.com).
Internet Simplification Tools
The internet as we know it is a massive tangled web of data translated into easy-to-understand chunks of information for public use. The code and programs that we see running on our computers are just the tip of the internet iceberg. There is a vast unseen ocean of information technology running beyond our sight that allows the functionality we expect of today's world wide web.
Originally, computers and networks are assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address. These addresses are a series of numbers that can barely be memorized by an average internet user. So, to make matters simple, a non-profit organization called ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers came up with the DNS or the Domain Name System.
What is the DNS?
The DNS works like a translator. We enter a website name (such as allthingswww.com) into a web browser, and when we hit enter it sends that name to the DNS. The DNS will redirect our browser to the IP address assigned to our desired website. This happens behind the scenes.
To further clarify, visualize the internet as a library with billions and billions of books from every genre, language, and other categories you could possibly imagine. Each of the books is an individual web page with a unique IP Address title looking like this: 184.108.40.206. The Domain name system is like a librarian that can help you get the book you need in a blink of an eye. So, without the ICANN's DNS, the internet would just be one massive pile of books without the slightest sense of organization.
What are Top-Level Domains?
The ICANN also implemented the TLD or Top-Level Domain system. TLDs are at the right-most part of any website. The most common examples are the .com, .net, and .org. Over time, as some TLDs became more popular, the world has added the word 'generic' to the TLDs, making the accepted term 'GTLDs.'
A business, person, or entity has all the freedom in choosing their domain name, like allthingswww, but the ICANN has full sovereignty over the TLDs.
TLDs mainly have two categories, the sponsored and unsponsored TLDs. The sponsored domains are meant to be used only for authorized purposes such as the .gov (government), .edu (education), and .mil (US Military). Any website that would register under these TLDs must go through the ICANN's appointed sponsoring bodyto ensure a website's legitimacy.
However, the unsponsored TLDs are open for registration to anyone who wants to operate on the internet landscape. The first unsponsored TLDs to be released in 1985 were .com (commercial), .org (for non-profit organizations), and .net (network). So as long as you do not abridge ICANN's policies, you can have a website.
Timeline of Top-Level Domains
October 1984: .com, .edu, .mil, .gov, .net, .org
November 1988: .int
November 2000: .biz, .aero, .coop, .museum, .info, .name, .pro.
March 2004: .asia, .cat, .jobs, .mobi, .tel, and .travel
2008: ICANN approves Open GTLDs, which, according to their guidebook: "enables the internet community to open up the namespace to new and innovative uses for top-level domains, and can meet some of the needs unmet by the current market."
What are CCTLDs?
Apart from GTLDs, another category worth mentioning is the CCTLDs, wherein the CC stands for country code. CCTLDs, unlike their predecessors, are made up of only two letters: .jp for Japan, .uk for the United Kingdom, and .au for Australia.
Although CCTLDs are originally reserved for specific countries and the communities they serve, some agencies may help an individual or a company buy a website with a CCTLD from a country they don't belong to, provided they are only for 'creative' purposes.
Other CCTLDs are also being commercialized now. For example, the CCTLD for Colombia (.co) is deemed the perfect deviation from the saturated .com. However, this argument is debatable as the popular GTLDs are not projected to go anywhere in the foreseeable future.
Some brands use CCTLDs to solidify their identity on the internet or make their websites shorter. The video-hosting giant YouTube bought youtu.be to be its valid domain name; .be is the CCTLD for Belgium. LinkedIn, a business-and-employment-oriented website, also did the same with India's CCTLD to acquire Linked.in.
.com vs new GTLDs
As of February 2021, .com still has the biggest share in TLD Distribution with a whopping 35.08%. It is also worth noting that we are closing in the 2 billion mark of registered websites.
If viewed categorically, among Generic TLDs, 85.29% of all websites use .com. That is followed by an 8.36% .net, and .org follows at 6.34. All other GTLDs are below 0.01%
For new GTLDs, 11.63% of all websites are registered under .info. That is followed closely by .xyz at 8.13%, .top at 7.38%, and .loan at 6.06%.
What about you?
Businesses and big companies often opt for a .com for undefined reasons. Perhaps, .com sounds more trustworthy, authoritative, and most of all, familiar. However, given .com's dominance over the world wide web, domains with a .com are in a relatively low supply, especially given the existence and practice of cybersquatters.
Cybersquatters are people who register hundreds of domain names and sell them to legitimate businesses at a significantly higher price. Technically, as long as a person pays for a website, even if he/she does not use it, the ICANN cannot do anything about it. Cybersquatting may sound like a petty prank you can play on your friends, but it turns out to be a highly profitable practice.
This is where the new GTLDs fill the void. With the new GTLDs, you can be creative. If you are a gym owner, you could use your-gym-name.fit. If you own an online store, your-store-name.shop is a very good option. If you are a photographer, your-name.photography would work as well. Given the fact that more and more new GTLDs are opened from time to time, the possibilities are endless.
If compared with a .com, new GTLDs are a more affordable alternative. But new GTLDs aren't getting cheaper either! Do you want to build your website now? Send us a message at email@example.com, and we will help you explore possibilities and plan your online success.
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