The Internet will never be the same again. As of today, the number of generic top-level domains has increased from 22 to 29, but that's just the start.
Alongside the most well known gTLDs such as .com and .net, we will start to see websites ending in the following this week:
They are being brought online by registry Donuts, with another 7 set to appear on 5 February, taking the total up to 36 and regular roll outs of new names planned on a weekly basis after that. If you think that's more than enough to get your head around, be aware that ICANN is only just getting started.
ICANN is the private organisation tasked with overseeing the roll out and management of new and existing gTLDs. In total, it hasanother 1,930 new gTLDs preparing to go live and it's difficult to imagine how so many domains are going to exist without causing confusion, problems, and more than a few lawsuits.
While every new gTLD goes through a sunrise period where trademark holders can secure their brand names, protection is only granted for exact name matches. That will inevitably lead to cyber squatters registering similar names to well-known brands where they can followed by companies being forced to take legal action to try and remove them.
The other big issue is the potential for confusion. Will Internet users in general be able to cope with hundreds of new domains appearing? Will they trust clicking a link to a domain that ends in .clothing or .lighting? We've already seen problems occurring, like Amazon the company losing its fight to control .amazon. Most people visiting a .amazon domain would probably expect to end up at the retailer's site, but instead they'll be visiting pages associated with the Amazon rainforest and river.
Nobody knows how this will pan out until the new domains start being used, and we will have a much clearer picture of how the new gTLDs are fairing by the end of the year, when hundreds are live and attempting to function.