Having watched the evolution of the internet, from a curiosity to the center of all marketing, this trend is bound to continue, but to an even greater extent. New TLDs are simply another step towards this end, but like all changes, they can take time from inception to general acceptance.
Back in 1996, and even as late as 1999, I remember that some country specific domain names (e.g. .co.nz for New Zealand or .co.uk for the United Kingdom) were not seen as serious alternatives to the .com domain names. Even the search engines treated these domain names as poor cousins and ranked them lower than the .com ones. Today, if one does not own the domain name for the country they are marketing in, then they can be questioned as to the seriousness, and even loyalty, with regard to that country. The company can be seen to be 'an outsider' trying to supplant the locals.
Having a localized domain name not only protects ones brand from corporate identity theft, but now owning a TLD, arguably, is required to do the same. However, where a local country domain name may cost as little as $9 per year, a TLD starts at $185,000 with $25,000 ongoing yearly costs. This means that this puts them out-of-reach for everyone, but the very large corporates. Which, in my mind, begs the questions, 'is this putting the cost-of-entry to the future of website marketing and technology at a level beyond the reach of your average start-up?' Let me explain:
As I began with saying, the future of the internet, or websites, is, and I believe has always been, corporate TV channels - broadcast across the increasing bandwidth of the Internet. When the two factors of global internet bandwidth and video production costs reach a tipping point, website content will go from primarily being text and images to video, supplemented by text and images. From there, as Daily Motion already does, videos will be automatically ganged together and streamed in much the same way as TV broadcasts are. One will then simply search for their favorite topic and sit down to 'watch the internet'.
Now imagine, with the increasing prevalence of internet scammers spoofing a large brand's web address using sub domains (e.g. google.clickme.com, which is a sub domain of clickme.com, not part of google.com), the only sure way to know you are reaching the actual trusted brand's website is via a TLD (e.g. www.sales.apple for the online store of Apple Computers Inc.). This means, in the fullness of time, internet users will start searching for a brand's TLD, not their .com, or localized, address to be sure they are not being scammed.
Furthermore, as web applications (or web-browser based applications) become the norm for businesses, just as marketing is now almost completely 'web-centric', so a business' operations (not just their credibility) will also become largely dependent on their web based technology. Thus, only those companies large enough to own a TLD will be trusted to deliver this sort of functionality to businesses requiring the most stringent security and data protection.
So, in the future do the rich become richer and the poor become poorer? It always has been the trend and this does not seem to be turning around. Even the internet is going from open source to proprietary.
I ask the question then, 'what is the hope for those web designers/developers pinning their future on open source software?' With businesses moving not just their marketing, but their entire opperation, to web technology, the quality of the contractor they use to build and maintain that technology becomes crucial. Anyone, including the very inexperienced, have access to open source Website Content Management Systems (WCMS). However, only the very capable and well funded have the experience, knowledge and money required to build a quality proprietary WCMS or Paltform as a Service (PaaS) for a business to base their future on.
What is more, after the latest attacks against Word Press as well as other factors, open source software is now, by some, being seen as a risky investment for businesses concerned with security. Its openness is also its Achilles heal - i.e. if everyone can examine its source code, they can also relatively easily discover its weaknesses. Open source is great for those capable of mastering it, but not for the 'public' who need help just to use a computer.
So when choosing a web designer or developer to work with, who would you choose to trust with the future well-being of your business? Someone who downloaded a bit of free software, or a company capable of building their own competitive system. Even a web designer/developer who is a reseller of a proprietary system has some back-up and support for the client beyond their own business' fortunes.
Now, in light of all this, will TLDs become a major hurdle for the start-up web designer/developer wanting to build their own WCMS or PaaS? Will businesses trend towards those companies able to afford one of their own? What will the future of open source WCMSs be - and those basing their careers on it?
We do know were the internet is heading for businesses, but the advent of private TLDs does add another interesting factor to consider.