TORONTO - Guessing a website address used to be so simple. Stick a .com or .ca at the end of a company or organization's name and most of the time, that would do it.
But there's a flood of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) hitting the web, which could eventually leave consumers struggling to remember which of more than 1,400 web suffixes to type in.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is in the process of gradually rolling out all kinds of new web address types, including .best, .buzz, .cheap, .cool, .expert, .guru, .ninja, .sexy and .wtf.
The most popular so far has been .club, which was launched by Canadian Colin Campbell, who previously founded the companies Internet Direct, Tucows and Hostopia.
More than 90,000 .club URLs have been registered so far and a few were sold off for five-figure fees. Eat.club was purchased for $20,000, English.club went for $17,500, chinese.club was bought for $13,750, and toys.club for $12,500, says Campbell, who also recruited rapper 50 Cent to use the web address 50inda.club for an official fan site.
Teen-pop star Demi Levato has also purchased a .club address for her fan club.
"Dot-club is short, memorable, and the interesting thing about .club is it adds meaning at the end of a domain," says Campbell explaining why he spent big bucks to acquire the rights to .club domains.
"We're still going to have .com, we're still going to have .ca, they're never going to change, they're going to be the dominant generic domain names in Canada.... It's not trying to be an alternate to .ca or .com, it's really trying to complement those names or offer an alternative with a different meaning."
A number of large companies have protected their brands by buying the .club for their corporate names, including Chanel, Gucci, Harvard University and Lego, Campbell says.
Mary Kay went a step further by also acquiring beauty.club and makeup.club, although they're still inactive.
"What we're seeing with some of the companies that are buying .clubs is that what they want to do is build a community around a particular industry and from there obviously leverage their brand within that community," Campbell says.
He believes web surfers will eventually adapt to having to use a number of different URL suffixes for sites they visit, but expects many of the upstarts won't take off.
"It's likely we are going to see a large number of failures in the marketplace here, like you would in any industry."
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