Until recently, ICANN, the body charged with administering the domain naming system, has been very stingy about authorizing new top-level domains (e.g. .com, .net, .biz). Now, however, it's apparently open season. Anyone with $185,000 can have a top-level domain of their own.

Implications? Well first, it's a bit more hassle, confusion and complexity for those of us whose business involves gathering and maintaining this information. Second, it's a potential area of opportunity. Consider a legal publisher that buys the top-level domain ".law" and offers it to its advertisers, or hosts websites for law firms listed in its database. This could be an exciting marketing gambit.

But more profoundly, this move marks increasing erosion in one of the core uses of many directory products: providing basic company contact information. Think about it: you don't need a directory (or a search engine for that matter) to find the website for Microsoft, because the odds are very good that if you type the name of any big company followed by ".com," you'll easily get to that company's website. Should Microsoft acquire the ".microsoft" top-level domain, it will likely get even easier. Many web pundits believe that in the near future, you'll simply type "Microsoft" into your browser, and if Microsoft owns the corresponding top-level domain, you'll go right to it site.

The lesson here, which I've stated many times before, is that basic company contact information has become a commodity, and this new development even further erodes its value. If you think the $185,000 will keep a lid on things, don't forget innovative services like Telnic* that is vying to become a central company phone book on the web. Still not convinced? Then go over to Jigsaw (2005 Model of Excellence winner), which offers its database of 2.6 million company records free for the downloading.

The bottom line is that if "industry phone directory" is a part of the value proposition of your data product, it's well past time to start moving it up the value chain.

*Telnic is a 2009 Model of Excellence finalist, and its CTO, Henri Asseily, will explain how the company is executing on its vision at this year's InfoCommerce Data Content09 conference.

Model of Excellence Awards

We are pleased to announce that Netprospex Inc. is a finalist for an InfoCommerce 2009 Model of Excellence awards.

Review the Netprospex Model of Excellence profile here

Hear Netprospex Founder & CEO Gary Halliwell at DataContent 09
DataContent 09: All Roads Lead to Data. Full program here.

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