ARS Technica reports ICANN has approved plans for handling new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). The organization will begin accepting applications in January, applicants will have to pay $185,000 and will be responsible for managing the gTLD, if it gets approved.
ICANN apparently recognized that there's a continued interest in expanding gTLDs, and set about creating a mechanism to handle requests as they come in, rather than to consider them in batches on an ad-hoc basis. And at least according the FAQ site that it has set up, the organization expects a busy response: "Soon entrepreneurs, businesses, governments and communities around the world will be able to apply to operate a Top-Level Domain of their own choosing." (More details, including an Applicant Guidebook, are also available.)
Still, the FAQ also makes it clear that grabbing a gTLD won't be an exercise in casual vanity. Simply getting your application processed will cost $185,000 and, should it be approved, you'll end up being responsible for managing it. Do not take this lightly, ICANN warns, since "this involves a number of significant responsibilities, as the operator of a new gTLD is running a piece of visible Internet infrastructure." Presumably, service providers will take care of this hassle, but that will simply add to the cost of succeeding.