<IT WORLD> Domain doors open to dot chaos
By Martin J Young
HUA HIN, Thailand - Possibly the biggest shakeup on the Internet for many years
went on this week as web regulator ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers) voted on new names at its annual general meeting in Paris.
"Apart from the .com, .net or .org, the 1.3 billion web users will be able from
early 2009 to acquire generic addresses by lodging common words such as .love,
.hate or .city or proper names," ICANN president Paul Twomey told French media.
It is unlikely these new names will come cheap or be readily available to
individuals and the general public. As we have seen,
the domain registrars, which are private companies, get in first to snap up the
best names with the intention of reselling them at inflated prices. Network
Solutions already has a reputation for this.
Corporations will also have precedence to preserve their trade names - they
will be able to register .intel or .nokia for example. Some may have to
register thousands of names to protect their brand identity and prevent crooks
setting up fraudulent websites using their name. Asia Times Online currently
suffers from a number of unscrupulous individuals using its branding and
similar domain names to deceive readers into thinking they are getting the
Prices for the new names have yet to be confirmed, but they could be in the
region of US$100,000 for high-level, or desirable, domains. The high price
could discourage cyber-squatters from sitting on other people's domains and
inflating prices, a common practice with dot coms, which are available to
Twomey also stated, "It's a massive increase in the geography of the real
estate of the Internet." But he failed to acknowledge the fact that the average
web developer or citizen will have trouble taking advantage of this expansion.
New naming conventions such as the recent .asia extension seem to be aimed at
governments and corporations, with regular people being left at the bottom of
the pile with only cyber-scraps to choose from.
The adoption of these new domain names is expected to take time and they are
unlikely to knock "dot coms" off the top of the most desirable domain list.
Most organizations will only change out of necessity and this move is likely to
cost them thousands of dollars if they do. All will be to the benefit of the
all-controlling domain registrars and further confuse web surfers, who will be
faced with myriad variations of what they are trying to find.
Search giant Google denied this week that its keenly anticipated Android
powered gPhone faces delays. According to an announcement last November, the
mobile software platform and new phones should be ready for launch by the
second half of this year - a second half that is getting longer as time goes
by. A number of mobile phone carriers have delayed plans to release new models
as they are still experiencing teething problems with the technology.
Apple caused a stir this month with the release of its latest 3G iPhone.
However, Google's system will be operational across multiple platforms and
hardware configurations, unlike the Apple, which will only work with its own.
Android's other competitors include Microsoft and BlackBerry creators Research
One big plus point for Google is that its platform will run on an open source
Linux platform, which means it can be sold far cheaper than its closed-door
rivals at Apple and Microsoft. Symbian, another of the big players in mobile
phone software, recently switched its operations to open source. On Tuesday,
companies including Nokia, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony
Ericsson, AT&T, Texas Instruments and Vodafone announced they would work
together on open source Symbian, which currently runs on about 60% of the
world's smartphones, primarily Nokias.
One thing is for sure, the next 12 months will introduce smartphone users to an
entirely new array of products, programs, platforms and playthings all
competing for their slice of the mobile market.
Bill Gates' big day has finally come as he prepares to step down from daily
operations at Microsoft. Once the world's richest man - he slipped to third in
the most recent Forbes' list - he will be handing over the chairman's reigns to
his chief executive officer Steve Ballmer, who will now head the world's
largest software company.
Love them or hate them, Gates' products have had an influence on almost
everyone who has used a computer in the past 20 years. The founder of Microsoft
will now focus on working with his wife on their own charitable projects, led
by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is funded largely by his own
Ballmer will not have an easy road, especially if he is to claw back some of
that lost market share from rival Google, which has been using the Internet to
chip away at Microsoft's dominance in the software department. Ballmer's
unsuccessful bid for Yahoo this year emphasized some of the failings in his
company, which has almost 90,000 employees compared with 30 in 1980.
Some analysts say it has been stifled by its bulging bureaucracy and its lack
of innovation is highlighted by its constant quest to buy up the competition.
The business model has also changed, Microsoft offers computer software for a
license fee whereas its competitors now offer theirs online for subscription or
under advertising-based models for free.
number of personal computers in use around the world has passed a billion,
Research firm Gartner stated on Monday. Strong growth in emerging markets is
set to double this figure by 2014, while the 58% share of installed PCs held by
mature markets will drop to 30% over the next six years. "Rapid penetration in
emerging markets is being driven by the explosive expansion of broadband and
wireless connectivity, the continuing fall in PC average selling prices, and
the general realization that PCs are an indispensable tool for advancement,"
One unpleasant side effect from all of these computers is the by-products when
they are scrapped. Most of what is commonly known as e-waste ends up in
landfills, where toxic components such as mercury go straight into the
environment. Gartner estimates 180 million computers will be replaced this
year, much of the scrap being shipped to developing countries for recycling or
simply going into landfills.
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.