The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is basically the company that controls how things are named on the internet. They decide whether a country has its own unique extension or not. They spent years working out the details for the controversial “.xxx” extension. Now, in a move that has a lot of people shocked, they are opening up quite a bit. Adding to the fewer than two dozen generic top-level domains to choose from (.com, .net, etc.), new top level domains are being made available for purchase. The big names in internet media are obviously excited about this and Amazon is no exception.
Amazon has filed for 76 different domains. Considering these are selling for $185,000 up front and another $25,000 per year to maintain possession, this is no small investment. Some of the choices are obvious, such as “.AMAZON”. Others are clearly defensive. They can’t afford to let the competition control “.BOOK” uncontested while running the world’s largest eBook store. The ones that are the most interesting are the unexpected choices that hint at future developments.
For Kindle lovers, my favorite choice here is “.AUTHOR”. It would seem to hint at new features for the Kindle Store. Most likely, this would allow for greater self-promotion opportunities among KDP authors. Unlike the “.BOOK” extension, it is not currently contested. This means there is a good shot that Amazon will get to run with it, assuming they actually have plans and aren’t just preemptively acquiring it for later possibilities.
Since this sort of opening up of web naming hasn’t happened before, it is hard to say what it will mean for future applications. Obviously it would be helpful to have access to this sort of domain naming, but there is no precedent to draw on. If we have Amazon controlling “.KINDLE” then what will they do with it? There is no point in controlling your own registry if all you do with it is host a single page, but nobody really expects Amazon, Google, or most of the other applicants for these names to change their minds about maintaining closed registries.
Obviously we’re looking at the introduction of new organization scheme for the Kindle Store and Amazon in general. If they win even half of the names they are trying to get their hands on, things are going to get really interesting. Innovation is likely, and may come in unexpected ways. Some people are expecting little more than shortened product names that redirect to existing Amazon.com pages but that would hardly be an intuitive choice for browsers for a lot of these choices. ICANN has indicated that they have plans to deal with companies who purchase and don’t make any use of a top level domain in order to limit squatting, so even defensive acquisitions can’t be left idle.
If nothing else, it is easy to imagine this drastically changing the future web interface for Kindle devices.