Death of the domain name?

25 May, 2011

Interesting article on plans for forthcoming releases of the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers to “deemphasise” the address bar, so that the URL of the page you’re viewing is not visible in normal browsing.

As the report puts it:

 

Google’s motivation to reduce your dependence on the URL bar is clear, since the company would rather that you think of using the web the same way you use your iPhone or Android device.

As Google sees it, the Web isn’t a collection of sites such as nytimes.com, mail.google.com or Facebook.com. Instead these are all software applications called The New York Times, Gmail, and Facebook that happen to live online instead of on the desktop.

 

From an online safety point of view, this has pros and cons. Critics will argue that hiding the URL will make life easier for scammers to direct people to phony sites. Against that, the linked report suggests that removing human error (typing the wrong address) will reduce some opportunities for scam sites.

I remember suggesting at an event some years ago that search would ultimately displace URLs/domain names as the main means by which people navigated the web. It’s taken longer than I thought, but it does now seem to be happening: I’ve noticed a number of offline advertisements in recent months (such as billboards and magazine ads) that invite people to search for a keyword rather than giving the advertiser’s website address.

Add to that this new trend to treat websites as apps, and it may well be that the URL is on its way towards becoming a purely technical feature working in the background.