London businesses get ready for swanky '.london' Internet domain

Stuff the provinces

From next spring, businesses in London will be able to advertise their local credentials using a new .london web domain, Internet super-body ICANN has confirmed.

London is not the only famous city getting in on city domains, with New York's .NYC approved last July. Rome, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and Tokyo are among a clutch of cities that have either been approved or are about to be approved under the long-running ICANN gTLD (general Top-Level Domain) initiative.

Many London businesses have already expressed an interest in having a city domain, London & partners (the organisation that promotes the city on behalf of the Mayor) claimed, offering department store Selfridges as an example.

"Adopting the .london suffix will enable organisations to more closely associate themselves with our great city's powerful global brand. This is also an excellent opportunity to expand London's digital presence, which in turn is set to generate funds to invest back into the city." London Mayor, Boris Johnson commented.

London & Partners has set up a subsidiary, Dot London Domains Ltd to manage domain registrations through partner Minds + Machines.

"Dot London will operate on a commercial basis and any surplus profits will be re-invested for the benefit of London," said London & Partners.

"When we have talked to London businesses and organisations about this, they're extremely excited about the opportunities .london presents," said London & Partners chief executive, Gordon Innes.

"Applicants will get a domain name that links them with London and is easier to remember and more powerful, potentially resulting in more customers."

Enthusiasm for the new city domains appears to be high, which is a marked contrast from the release of the troubled .eu domain in 2005; nobody was interested and many firms bought them purely for defensive reasons to stop domain squatters.

Prices have not been announced but will probably vary depending on the prefixes they are paired with, for example 'hotels.london'. It's possible that some businesses will drop the generic .co.uk suffix and instead buy the local option. If that happens some .london sales will be canabalising the current domain business.

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