Reuters is reporting today that there are some big changes coming to domain name extensions. The historically popular .com extension is the most sought after domain type currently. However, with the rise in popularity of domain name parking investors have bought domain names by the tens of thousands. There are entire services set up to support domain name purchasers. The volume of purchases has created a shortage of short, single word domain names. As a result, many people are now forced to purchase three-word domain names or include prefixes. While this does not have a big impact on SEO, it does make them harder to remember.
As this problem has grown, new domain extensions have been added to allow plain english words to be re-used with different extensions. This has helped, however there is still a strong bias toward .com for most serious businesses. Starting next year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will be accepting applications for new extensions. Unlike previous expansion efforts they will now be accepted applications for privately branded extensions. For example, Nike could apply for the .nike extension. This would allow them to create domains such as running.nike.
As with other expansion efforts, it remains to be seen if this will take-off. Additionally, the price tag for such an application is reported to be $185,000. This means only the largest of businesses can afford privately branded domain extensions.