As from 2012, the name of a town, company, or product will be able to replace the traditional “.com”. But this ingenious marketing gimmick doesn’t come cheap…

€147,500 for a “top-level” domain name
Soon there will be customised URLs such as www.microsoft.microsoft or www.london.london, though these will initially be restricted to “established public or private organisations”.
An undeniable marketing advantage, maybe, but not one that is suited to all budgets: the price set by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which controls the function of Internet domain names, is $185,000, plus annual handling fees of $25,000, (€130,000 and €17,500). Organisations must also provide proof that they have the requisite technological capacity to maintain a domain.

A potted history of website address extensions
Created in 1985, .com was one of the first unrestricted, generic top-level domain names , used for business organisations.  Then came .net for telecoms providers, .org for charities/non-profit organisations, and, in 2001, .info for information services.
Approved since 1985, the other top-level domains such as .gov, .edu, .aero, .mobi, etc as well as country suffixes (.co.uk, .fr, .de, etc) have also been part of the internet landscape.

Find out more
>> Applying for a top-level domain
Applications will be available for consultation from January to April 2012 on the ICANN website.
>> ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the non-profit corporation in charge of assigning and monitoring domain names.
>> ICANN official website