Companies like Sony are continuing to push the digital innovation envelope – as evidenced by the recent unveiling of the new PlayStation console with more Internet streaming options and broader integration with multiple devices.
Clearly, companies that respond to consumer demand for a rich experience with multiple access points and social engagement will remain front runners. They are also the ones who will likely successfully leverage the new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).
Sony is one of those visionary digital leaders, having applied for .playstation and .sony, which can be used as differentiating digital assets that tie all corporate digital properties together.
While many question the benefits of owning a brand domain, e.g., .playstation, it isn’t hard to see how digital companies can use their gTLD to provide a much higher level of functionality for users due to a much deeper control over site architecture and nomenclature.
Critics challenge that the same capabilities are already there in .com. But they may not be taking a close enough look at what companies like Sony will do to outperform competitors when they have greater capabilities in operating .playstation rather that playstation.com. Sony has already begun the integration of search for games via the Internet, social networking with friends while gaming, and capturing data to continue to develop a more robust experience. But what more can they do with a .playstation environment instead of playstation.com?
Faster Resolution. At its core, the top-level domain must resolve all second string domains. So, for example, when you enter sony.com into your web browser, that goes to an operations center managed by VeriSign, which verifies the existence of sony.com and then sends a message back to your computer before taking you to their web site. VeriSign likely resolves millions of domain names every second in a saturated .com environment, and while they have the capacity for more, when Sony operates .playstation for itself, it won’t have to resolve through the millions of other .com queries. As a result, it should be faster to only resolve with other gamers and not the millions of other Internet users trying to find a .com. Being faster in the games and entertainment market is mission-critical and can add to the user experience in a meaningful way.
The Data Play. What about the fact that Sony will have complete control over the data points generated by how consumers use .playstation? While companies can certainly collect data on .com, with gTLDs they can architect the site to invite more possibilities for data capture and then mine the entire top level to monitor usage patterns, navigation, etc. Understanding not just who is on your site, but how they got there, what else they look for, and what other products and services they use can all mean big dollars to the companies that leverage that data to deliver better services, ads, promotions and offers, as well as connections to other related products and services. Sony and others who have gTLDs will have more robust capabilities to design their site to collect this data and monitor it across their own top level domain.
More Security. For example, if a user visits a site that ends in .playstation, then they can feel confident knowing it is the one true Sony Playstation site rather than a fraudulent or counterfeit site taking credit cards for counterfeit games. This security ensures consumers they can trust all of their activity on the site. Companies that can’t provide that level of trust when they are left in a “don’t trust a .com” world will be scrambling for security solutions.
Catalyst for Creativity. Add to this the creative ability to do more with naming conventions, navigation, personalization, and creating search and social networks all within one top-level domain. .com necessitates building around .com, but gTLDs will allow brands like Playstation to build around their own brand names, making it that much easier for loyal followers to connect.
Fiber on the Rise. What’s more to this story and trend is that fiber optic is picking up speed, with Google investing in a fiber network in Kansas City and other telecommunications companies re-investing in fiber to provide higher-speed Internet access to homes and businesses. As the cord to the cable box is ultimately cut and consumers rely on their Internet connection for all of their content, games etc., companies with a gTLD like Sony will be one step ahead.
While it’s hard to see the changes coming, this technology shift is inevitable and the initial new gTLDs will begin launching later this year. And with the window to apply for a gTLD closed for at least the next 3-5 years, companies like Sony already have a competitive edge. Don’t worry, though, Xbox also applied, but lagging competitor Nintendo Wii did not. Other big applicants included Google, Amazon, Microsoft, the NFL, MLB and NBA. But missing were Facebook, Twitter and Groupon.