The ICANN board recently (June 26) decided to allow for new top-level domains, such as .nyc and .perfume. This is I believe a welcome (and long overdue) decision. When people have to deal with the country of Tuvalu or their outsourced agents to secure .tv domains, you know a system is broken.
What will this mean? For most people, nothing. The six-figure cost suggested by ICANN means this is a rich persons’ game. Essentially this allows for smaller “countries” to be set up, each will have their own fees. For larger organizations, this is yet another piece of intellectual property they will have to acquire. I can imagine seeing .mac and .windows in the future (who knows, a .linux ?).
Interestingly this will be most useful for short (ideally three-letter) brands with a “branded house” model of branding, and some fairly deep pockets. Two letter .tlds that already were assigned as a country code, sorry, out of luck chaps. Proctor & Gamble loses out to Papua New Guinea (but they have a “house of brands” strategy, so no worries).
The real effect for consumers typing in the browser will be the removal of the .com for some brands, e.g., “http://cocacola” could be an address, instead of “http://cocacola.com” (which gets rerouted to http://www.coca-cola.com/glp/d/index.html anyway, what a waste).
Most of us will keep using .com and .org, and the .edu for universities in the US. The .tv domains and the odd .us as in del.icio.us will still be around. Recently the url-shortening service is.gd sprung up, showing that even in this constrained domain naming environment, creativity still happens… perhaps because of the constraints.