Can Domain Names be Replaced?
I’ve always been bullish on domain names. I see them as the digital version of physical addresses. Physical addresses have withstood the test of time. We’ve used them for hundreds of years and will surely still use them for the years to come. They are people friendly (for most people) and they help us to know where to go. Even when we map out our path in an iPhone or GPS unit, we enter the physical addresses. Technology hasn’t changed our need for physical addresses.
So, like physical addresses, I’ve always thought, “We will always need domain names.” But I’m becoming less sure for a few reasons. The biggest reason is the success of smart phones. Their pervasiveness, combined with the shrinking processor are causing me to reconsider my position.
Now that they have a way to get a processor into a pair of glasses it’s possible to envision people looking at a QR code on their TV, computer, or in a magazine and saying, “Go to that site” to get to a web page. Now, you might think, “Well Joe, that still requires a domain name. And I’d answer, “Will it?”
Can a Simple Touch and Statement Replace a Domain Name?
Domain names became popular as an easy way for people to remember virtual places (websites). But before there were domain names, there were just numbers (or IP addresses). The key factor in why domain names became successful was that they were “easy“. Names are easier for people to remember than numbers. So in the situation at that time, it became easier for people to remember a name like www.101domain.com than it was for them to remember http://188.8.131.52/. These both go to the same place. 101domain.com is a name mapped to a number; an easier-to-remember layer on top of an IP address.
Will Technology Make Getting Places Easier Than Domains?
So now, let’s fast forward to the year 2017 (just a few years from now). Billions of people will have smartphones, glasses, or who knows what kind of implants that, in essence, are “exo-brains”. We will need these devices to function. And these devices will make it very “easy” (a word or two and a touch or gesture) to “go to that site”. If it’s that easy to go somewhere, then why not go back to using a number again or a QR code that takes you there instantly (no typing necessary). Domain names may become less necessary (Note: I’m not saying they’ll ever be replaced; just less necessary and for no good reason!).
With IPV6, there are billions of new IP addresses available. It’s only a matter of time before smartphone manufacturers make QR code readers native to mobile phones. No more downloading of reader applications. Phones (or glasses or ocular implants for that matter) will take people places online with less effort than typing in a domain name.