IANA quietly created three new country-code top-level domains shortly before Christmas, to represent the new nations created by the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles last year.
None of the strings are currently delegated. The governments of the respective nations will have to apply to IANA if they want to start using their TLDs on the internet.
The days of chancers moving in to colonize island ccTLDs (eg .nu) may have passed, but there are still opportunities for domain name businesses to make a buck here.
The most recent new ccTLD, .me, was assigned to Montenegro in 2007. The registry’s partners include Go Daddy and Afilias.
I’m sure overseas domain name companies are already sniffing around the newly minted countries.
But these nations are small, and they don’t seem to have lucked out by being assigned strings with much secondary semantic value, so I can’t imagine we’re looking at high-volume TLDs.
Sint Maarten’s .sx may be an exception, due to its resemblance to “.sex”, which is quite likely, I think, to be created as a gTLD under ICANN’s upcoming new TLDs program.
If and when .sx is delegated, the country will have to bear this potential for confusion in mind when it’s designing its registration policies.
Will it want to keep its national brand respectable, or will it cash in on possible future typosquatting?
The Netherlands Antilles officially split in October. It took about three months for the three strings to be added to the ISO 3166 list (pdf), and another week for IANA to add the ccTLDs to its database.
The string AN, for the dissolved country, has also been deleted from the 3166 list. What happens to .an the ccTLD is a whole other story.