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Infosys, HDFC, Bharti and RIL applies for new gTLDs

Reliance Industries have staked their claim to the domain of Indians. '.Indians' is one of the three domain names that the Reliance Group has applied for with ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the body responsible for coordinating the internet's domain name system as well as assigning generic top level domain (gTLD) names. Reliance has also applied for .reliance and .ril.

As there are no other applicants for the names, they will likely become the property of Reliance. There are over 20 gTLDs allotted to Indian companies, according to ICANN's list of applicants issued on Wednesday. Bharti Airtel has been allotted .airtel and .bharti domain names. Infosys has .infy and .infosys. The Tatas have .tata and .tatamotors. Other companies with their own gTLDs include SBI, Dabur, The TVS Group, HDFC, Lupin and Shriram.

A gTLD is the section of an internet domain name after the final period. In a web address like '', the .com is the gTLD. At this point, there are 22 gTLDs, including .com, .org and .net. In June 2011, ICANN approved a plan that would allow people to apply for new gTLDs.

gTLDs have become a significant investment avenue, and several companies have built business models around investing into them, for later disinvestment at a profit. Applicants had to pay an application fee of $185,000 (Rs 1.03 crore) to take part in the application process. They also face a minimum $25,000 (Rs. 13.9 lakh) annual renewal charge to keep their suffix once it has been granted. Where multiple applications are received for a single TLD, an auction process may be triggered, with the name going to the highest bidder. Out of the 1,930 submissions ICANN has received, 750 were for the same 230 domains. The TLD .cloud has been applied for by seven different companies.

One company, Top Level Domain Holdings, registered in the British Virgin Islands, has applied for no less than 53 gTLDs, including .gay, .vodka, .flowers and .yoga. The .yoga gTLD alone has had three applications, including one from the US and one from a company registered in the Cayman Islands.

ICANN has also issued localized gTLDs in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and other languages. VeriSign has been one of the big investors in this area, applying for Chinese and Arabic gTLDs. The company has also made applications for the Hindi gTLDs, including the Hindi version of .com and .net.

There is a third application for a Hindi gTLD, .sanghatan. The application was made by the Public Interest Registry (PIR), responsible for the .org domain. Other applications by include .ngo and .ong.

The big names are all there. Google has applied for 101 TLDs, including .lol, .talk, .tech, .team, .search, .shop, .music and .book, as well as .android, .chrome, .google and .youtube. Amazon has applied for .amazon, as well as .save, .shop, .store, .read and 71 other gTLDs. Microsoft is much more low key, with just 11 applications - including .xbox, .bing, .live and .hotmail. In contrast, Apple has just one application, .apple.

The first of the new gTLDs will go live in the second quarter of 2013, with ICANN expecting each batch to take four-five months to process. Rod Beckstrom, CEO of ICANN, said, "This is a historic day for the internet, because the internet is about to change forever. We're standing at the cusp of a new era for online innovation, including new jobs, new businesses and new ways to share information."

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