"Meh" future for the Internet

The Internet is expanding, apparently.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently announced that 100 different gTLDs, or generic top-level domains, are on track to becoming incorporated into the Internet universe.

The world of the familiar .com and .org extensions will soon be propagated with new ones like .bike, .sexy and even .apple. That’s right, everyone’s favorite brands will soon be able to have their very own web extensions.

But is this really that big of a deal? Do new web domain extensions really mark a new chapter in the history of the Internet, or should they just be relegated to a footnote?

Personally, I wouldn’t mind just the footnote. To me, these new extensions seem little more than a gimmick and fail to add anything meaningful to the Internet or to its users.

Will these new domain names make the Internet faster? No. Will they make the Internet easier to navigate? No. Will they make it more user-friendly? Probably not.

If anything, these new extensions will only make the Internet unnecessarily more complex.

Proponents of the new extensions, like Manny Sosa, manager of a downtown L.A. bike shop, claim that they are a good idea and just “make sense.”

Manny, by the way, says he will consider the move to a .bike address as soon as possible. He spoke to the Los Angeles Times about his excitement for the new domain names.

The thing is, contrary to Manny's beliefs, these new extensions don’t make sense. Sure, a .bike extension elicits to the user that the website probably has something to do with bikes. But a website’s name already should accomplish that. I mean, what’s wrong with “mannysosabikes.com”? Doesn't that make sense, Manny?

You might be sitting there arguing, “Hey, if Manny wants .bike, let him have it.” Sure, Manny, go ahead and get the .bike extension, but just know that it’ll run you upward of $185,000. That’s a lot of bikes. And it’s a lot of money for something utterly useless.

But hey, I may be totally wrong on this. Amazon and Google reportedly are in the market to purchase 76 and 101 new gTLDs, respectively.

“They're not in the habit of investing in loser ideas,” points out Leslie Philips, head of marketing at the consulting firm FairWinds.

She’s right. I would never bet against Amazon and Google.

On the other hand, Apple, another quite large tech company, is only interested in claiming one of these new extensions, .apple. The company's higher-ups are probably skeptical of the promise these new domain extensions truly offer, which is why they only wish to secure their own name, at least for now.

“It’s the future of the Internet,” Phillips claims.

If so, the future of the Internet may not be as promising as I hoped.

Reach the columnist at jjmah@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @JonathanMah

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