Is dot-com over the hill at 30?
Dot-com, the world's most recognised web address is celebrating its 30th anniversary - but how much longer will it be able to retain its dominance?
Dot-com is the world's most recognised web suffix, with over 115 million dot-com domains registered worldwide, representing about 42% of all web addresses. But many people are questioning whether it can continue to retain its dominance.
Originally launched by the US Department of Defence in 1985, dot-com was originally intended as an internet designation for "commercial entities".
Technology company Symbolics registered the first dot-com domain name, symbolics.com, on March 15 1985.
Dot-com got off to a relatively slow start, with only a handful of companies initially registering a domain. The first to get involved were largely technology companies, and included the likes of Intel and Siemens through the mid-to-late 1980s.
By 1997, however, the millionth dot-com domain name had been registered, and the internet boom was well under way. The association with commercial entities was lost when .com, .org and .net were opened for unrestricted registration in the mid-1990s.
Today, dot-com websites are accessed trillions of times each day. Millions of entrepreneurs have built their businesses online with dot-com, and the biggest names in business have branded their companies with dot-com addresses. Some believe that dot-com is now almost synonymous with the internet.
Jim Bidzos, executive chairman, president and CEO at Verisign, the authoritative registry operator of dot-com, said: "Dot-com is more than just an address. It's a globally recognised and respected brand itself that nearly every major global brand, including 100% of the Fortune 500, has entrusted with their online presence."
But with over 115 million dot-com domains already taken by existing websites or investors, it can be a challenge for consumers and businesses to acquire the dot-com domain name of their choice, unless they have very deep pockets.
One tactic that businesses use to get around this is by combining the dot-com suffix with a national country code, such as avon.uk.com or activia.us.com - although some view this as an inelegant solution.
In response, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is in the process of introducing more than 1000 new web address endings, known as Top-Level Domains.
For example, businesses in the food and drink industry can have dot-bar and dot-rest domains, while those in the design industry will soon be able to purchase a dot-design domain.
Some of these new domains also bring extra features, such as the forthcoming dot-tickets top level domain, which will provide consumers with a guarantee that they are buying real tickets from an authorised source.
The aim of releasing these new TLDs is not just to free up more space on the internet, but to encourage greater competition and consumer choice.
Ben Crawford, chief executive of domain name registry CentralNic, said: "The change occurring to the internet is profound and exciting. It's like the only beverage available for 30 years was water, and now suddenly there are exotic fruit juices, champagnes and single malts."