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Web giants battle for domain names

A scramble for new internet domain names will begin once a host of new suffixes is released early next year. The new suffixes include .app, .kids, .love, .pizza and also .amazon and .google.

The idea is to help websites position themselves more effectively, but there is already concern that the move will only increase the corporate and commercial annexation of the internet.

Icann is the company appointed to oversee the allocation of domain names. It has already revealed that Amazon and Google are among the companies keenest to acquire the new domain names.

"The internet is about to change forever," said Rod Beckstrom of Icann. "Through its history the internet has renewed itself through new ideas; we're on the cusp of new ideas and innovation which will give rise to new jobs and ways to link communities and share information."

The implications are alarming for observers already concerned about the ability of internet giants to dominate web commerce. It costs $185,000 to register for the top level domains, which demands a substantial degree of commitment and resources.

There is already a power struggle looming for control of the .app domain suffix for example. The winning applicant will then have the power to exclude rivals from use of the suffix, putting them at a clear commercial disadvantage.

The common analogy is that domain names form the property market equivalent on the internet. The indications are that all the most lucrative land on the web is about to be grabbed by the same handful of powerful brands.

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