Tonight, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will reveal which companies are going for what generic top-level domain (gTLD) names in its first round of applications.
Making new top-level domain names available will mean that instead of having .com, .com.au or .co.uk, URLs could be suffixed with .car or .sydney.
Internationally, Google has said that it is bidding for .google, .youtube and .lol. There have also been bids announced for .doctor, .music and .bank.
A bidder for .ngo is hoping to create an address for non-government organisations (NGOs) to use, in order to help distinguish between real concerns and scams.
The process hasn't all been smooth. Originally, applicants were required to send in their requests by April. However, the process was delayed when ICANN realised that there was a bug in its application system, which allowed some applicants to see other applicants' information and requests.
The system was taken down, and only brought back online on 21 May when it was fixed. The application period was finally ended on 30 May. However, it will take a year or two for ICANN to approve the first of these new suffixes, and it could take a few months longer for them to appear in use.
Some of them never will, if they are found to violate trademarks, or are deemed as being offensive, while others will be delayed as competing bidders quarrel over more common identifiers (such as .web).
When multiple applicants seek the same suffix, ICANN will encourage parties to work out an agreement, or will hold an auction if competing bidders fail to reach a compromise.
Given that there are around 2000 applicants, ICANN has decided to divide them into batches, with a game of skill called digital archery, along with their location information, to determine who goes into what batch.
The concern is that those in later batches might miss out on the suffixes they were hoping for, according to ARI Registry Services CEO Adrian Kinderis. ARI Registry Services has been engaged to help with the purchase and operation of certain TLDs like .sydney and .melbourne.
ARI Registry Services has been pushing for ICANN to deal with all 2000 applicants in the same batch, saying that 2000 is not actually that many. ICANN, however, has not yet changed its stance.
The Asia-Pacific region will be underrepresented in this round of gTLD allocation, Kinderis said. He claims that many big brands don't think they need gTLDs; he doesn't believe that price is the issue, considering how much these big brands spend on advertisements in mainstream media.
Each application costs $185,000, with a $25,000 recurring cost for each year after that for a minimum of 10 years. "For these brands, $185,000 is a rounding error," Kinderis observed.
ICANN has received at least US$350 million in application fees, which will be used to set up the domain-management system, review applications and make sure that parties do what they have promised once the domains are operational. Some of the money will also be set aside to cover potential lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants.