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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is Trend Convergence About to Change the Internet?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

The basic theory of trend convergence is the idea of several trends coming together to create social change and/or new trends. A single trend is very important. A convergence of trends can be transformational. The most profound social change occurs when different types of trends (economic, demographic, technological, social/cultural) come together.

Are the convergence of several popular technology trends about to blow the doors off the comfy confines of the Internet? If so, the new gTLD domain name extensions may just be a catalyst. These new (upwards of 1000) domain platforms may be just what the Internet needed to take it to a new level of personalization, individualization, application and integration into our everyday lives.

Due to the ongoing release by ICANN (the Internets govering body) of upwards of 1000 new GTLDs (Global Top Level Domain Names) the Internet may be facing a mighty sea change-the likes of which we have not seen before.

Along with the release of the new GTLDs, there are several prevailing trends advancing concurrently.   These technology trends are of course all related. What I'm referring to are the following:

The Internet of Everything (Cisco).
Mobilization of the Internet
In-Memory Data (Computing)
Introduction of New GTLDs.
The Ghosts of Madison Avenue

Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before-turning information into actions that create new capabilities...

The best definition of Individualization is from the Dictionary: to make individual or distinctive; give an individual or distinctive character to. Just think individualized services and Individualized Internet.

Mobilization of the Internet has to do of course with the world becoming increasingly mobile and connected to the Internet. The world is getting online and at an accelerated rate. The populations lagging behind have been India, China and Africa. They are fast catching up and getting connected. 

In-Memory Data technology/computing is apparently very, very fast.  Lets leave the topic at that.

The introduction of upwards of 1000 new GTLDs (Global Top Level Domain Names) (from the current number of 22 extensions)  may end up being a major catalyst that pulls much of this new Internet together.

You are going to see a sea change with domain name registrations (with the introduction of the new GTLDs) that are going to have alot to do with individualization and how companies use the domain names in their services. Up until now most domain name registrations were in the categories of business names and/or keyword names and generic terms. With the new GTLDs much of those registrations will still happen. Especially with upwards of 1000 new extensions to choose from. However, the a massive growth in domain name registrations is going to ultimately relate to individualization. What you will see is most everyone ultimately owning one, or two or dozens or more domain names. Yes owning domain names could become more common than email addresses. Many of these new domain name registrations  are going to related directly to the individual. Not a business. Not a keyword. Not a generic term. Not a brandable name. But to the person. 

Two things to keep in mind. First of all domain names are also Internet addresses.  Everyone has an address in the physical world. How long before everyone has an address in the virtual world? Or many? Think of your Facebook page or your LinkedIn page as an example. Those are some of the more popular addresses right now. Secondly, there are going to be unlimited applications that spring up relating to individuals owning their own domain name related to a service. Some industries that I think are particularly ripe for these (Individualized) services are data storage, communication, business, networking and entertainment. Without getting into the technological details of how these services will work, suffice it to say that you will own or be assigned a domain name related to the service. An individual domain name. An identifier for you. The domain name will either be some type of id/locater, or username, location (web page), secure id or some other type of identifier. 

Maybe the best way to view the new gTLDs is as a new technology platform. Potentially a transformative platform. Just as we have seen in recent years with cloud computing and app-applications. 

One last thought. 

There was a time when many of the smartest ad executives hung out in the smoke filled back rooms on the notorious Madison Avenue in New York. This was from around 1920 to the 1980's. Basically pre-Internet. Well many of these ad-types (and their children and grandchildren) have gone on to influence many of the Internet behemoths of today. The "Madison Avenue types" of the Facebooks, Amazons, Yahoos, Microsofts, Googles, Apples IBMs and the like are mapping  (as we speak) their GTLD strategies as it relates to todays marketplace and the applications for domain name platforms for their particular companies. Thinking of unique and innovative ways to engage with the customers and to expand brand development and loyalty with the new GTLDs.   There are many BIG companies with BIG pockets spending a good deal of time considering to how capitalize and exploit the introductions of the new GTLDs and particularly in terms of their own brand marketing. Domain name platforms are about to be (even more) prominent in terms of corporate brand strategies and advertising and marketing purposes.  What we will see as the new GTLDs are introduced and unfold is hundreds and thousands of new applications for domain names that are not front and center today. Many uses that haven't even been thought of yet as the domain name industry leaves its infancy and enters a maturing phase over the next several years.

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