As of 19th of June, ICANN announced new generic top-level domains (GTLDs) at a news conference in Singapore. The decision allows the number of Internet address to significantly increase from the current 22 to virtually an unlimited number of domains.
Internet address names will now be able to end with almost any word in any language.
This of course will come with a cost, which at the moment are not peanuts as it has been said that a registration like this will costs $185k (and $25,000 annual fees).
Some companies (e.g. predominantly American companies like Apple, Nike, Canon, BMW, Hitachi, UNICEF and InterNACHI) have already applied for the registration process, which it should be effective at the earliest 2012.
I've saved some money: should I consider buying my branded domain?
The current ICANN rules got everybody of us used to something like www.domain.ext or eventually domain.ext (regardless the extension was a gTLD or a ccTLD).
So in the eventuality a brand name is well known, attempting to reach a site was a matter of just two choices (in most of the cases).
For all the rest, users always rely on search engines, by typing in a name into a search engine or toolbar.
With the new structure, considering that the brand would become the extension, there would be more flexibility in picking up the second-level domain part, which is ultimately a company choice as far as I’ve understood.
From an SEO prospective, what are the downsides of having my branded domain?
Buying a branded domain would require necessarily investment into SEO to have those domains listed into the search engines (which is good of course).
But what about the domain’s authority?
These new domain names won’t inherit any historical information, and I’m quite sure the big brands who already applied for their own domain, have underestimated this aspect.
This also means that domains will become less important as SEO factor too.
For now, anything has been rolled out, and we have to wait up to 2012 to see what will happen.