Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon seek domains from ICANN

8:20 AM, Jun 14, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) - The Internet is a step closer to unleashing way more words - sought by the likes of Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft - to serve as bookends to website addresses.

On Wednesday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) unveiled a list of names and applicants eager to stake a claim to a piece of the Internet, known as a domain.

These new domain names would vastly expand the pool of suffixes beyond ".com" and ".net" and perhaps add such new Web address endings as ".baby," ".sex," ".apple" or ".google." Companies anted up $185,000 per domain to apply for these naming rights.

If approved, this would be the first time companies can grab a moniker or product-related name in the Web address slot. ICANN, which oversees the process, plans to approve applications for these new domains within a year or so.

"We are standing at the cusp of a new era of online innovation," ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said at a London press conference.

Apple has applied for only ".apple" while Google, Amazon and Microsoft have gone after multiple product names. Among many names, Amazon is going after ".book," ".circle," ".news," ".author" and the name of its popular Kindle Fire tablet with the ".fire" ending. Microsoft is seeking to acquire its search engine Web address suffix with ".bing" and its e-mail service ".hotmail" along with other products.

Of course competition means there are some companies that will go to fisticuffs over words.

Some domain names have more than one applicant, Beckstrom noted. For example, software giant Microsoft is going after ".docs" in a move that pits it against Google, which wants to protect Google Docs, its free online documents, spreadsheets and presentation software that challenges Microsoft's Office.

Google has been particularly aggressive in seeking new domains, applying for ".Android," ".app," ".blog," ".buy," ".corp" and more than 100 more.

There's a wider digital land grab at stake. There are multiple applicants for popular words ".app," ".blog," ".buy" and ".corp."

ICANN, which has received 1,930 applicants, will have to sort out whose claim is the strongest. Starting Wednesday, the 60-day period for anyone to submit their comments and objections begins. Those who object to applications have seven months to file complaints.

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