The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) selected .biz, .info, .name, .pro, .museum, .aero and .coop out of 44 proposed names. They will be added to the existing .com, .net, .org and .gov names.
Introducing additional domain extensions is likely to make it easier for businesses to find a suitable domain name, since finding an unused .com domain is notoriously difficult. However, some observers said the extra domains would cause confusion for consumers.
The .pro domain name, proposed by UK registrar Virtual Internet, is intended for accredited professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants.
Registration of the domains is likely to be tightly controlled to ward off cybersquatters – speculators that register well-known names or misspelled brand names for resale at a later date.
Competition for top-level domain names is high, but Nick Jones, an analyst for Jupiter Communications, said the new names could confuse consumers in the short term.
‘Consumers are conservative. They understand mainstream formats such as .com. Something out of the ordinary could create a barrier to purchasing online. There is also the potential for confusion over official sites,’ he said.
The companies that won the new domains will compete with VeriSign, which owns a near monopoly on the registration of domain names after its acquisition of Network Solutions earlier this year.
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