Internet domains are about to get more diverse for both users and website owners.

By 2014, Internet suffixes .com, .org and .info will be joined by hundreds, if not thousands, of customizable top-level Internet domain names. Website names such as mariospizza.nyc and greenwhichvillage.nyc could come into existence, along with websites that have suffixes such as .book, .microsoft, and .cars.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is overseeing the largest creation of new website domain names since the birth of the Internet. Last year, ICANN opened up the application process for new top-level domain names (which currently include .com, .org, .gov, .info and .edu, among others.)

Mashable reported that about 2,000 organizations applied for more than 1,400 domain names. The process was not a casual one. The cost was $185,000 to apply and for each new suffix granted there will be a yearly fee of $25,000 to maintain it.

Not surprisingly, Google is expected to have a huge impact. As examples, Google applied for .google, .youtube, .doc and .lol. Mashable quotes Google as saying those suffixes are related to Google’s core business and have “interesting creative potential.” Google also applied for the words .blog, .search, .fun and .free as website suffixes. Here is a list of the all words that the search engine giant applied for.

Google aims to grow the number of top level domains in four categories, such as trademarks (including .google), those related to its core business (.docs), and ones that improve the user experience and increase the identification of certain genres (.youtube) and fun options (.lol), according to Mashable.

“In 2016, it’s estimated that almost half of the world’s population will be online, yet nearly 50 percent of the websites we visit are found in the .com top-level domain, which was among the first top level domains created in 1984,” Google wrote on its Official Blog.

How the average person or business will be impacted by this will emerge as time goes by. For now, the application process for new suffixes is closed. However, ICANN may open them up again in the future, but expect that hefty price tag to remain.

If you own a brand name that you want to be protected from the possibility of having it appear in a new suffix, ICANN is charging $150 a year.

The new suffixes are expected to be announced on a rolling basis throughout 2013 and into next year. According to Mashable, ICANN will begin the process with non-English domains, and then release English domains that have only been claimed by one applicant, such as .acer for the technology company or .airbus for the aircraft manufacturer.

Domains that have been requested by more than one applicant, such as .technology or .book, will take longer to be released as ICANN decides which applicant receives them.

Whether an average person or business will be allowed to use these suffixes as their own websites will depend upon who owns a particular suffix.

For example, New York City has applied for and expects to have the .nyc domain name late this year or early 2014. The city will make .nyc available to New York City residents, neighborhoods and local businesses, said Rachel Haot, New York City’s chief digital officer, according to Mashable.

 

Joshua is the Digital Strategist at MBA@UNC, the online MBA program at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, and MPA@UNC, the online MPA program at the University of North Carolina’s School of Government.  Follow him on Twitter: @joshuavjohn