What does this mean? It means that .com just became a "second class" root domain. I'm not sure that this is good for small businesses in any way - but, that obviously isn't a concern for ICANN. Anyone who can afford the process can apply for any root domain name they want. If two people or entities want the same domain name, they can bid on it - so who ever has more money wins. If, for example, Pepsi and Coke, in addition to applying for .pepsi and .coke, both wanted .drink or .beverage or .pop or .soda - they could fight it out in good ol' greenbacks via public auction.
That is all well and good for Pepsi and Coke; but, what about a small Information Security Company, like CyberCede Corporation? What are the chances that web traffic going to cybercede.com will decrease in favor of being directed to whomever owns .infosec, or .security?
The face of the Internet is about to change - perhaps more drastically than it has changed since its inception.
This also means that there are sites you just won't be able to reach without knowing a foreign language, or without having a modification to your keyboard to allow you to type in non-Romanic characters. I think this is significant. Up until this point, the Internet has been a global unifying movement. Sure, you can find pages that have foreign language content today - but you can at least read the address of that page in English. I would go so far as to believe that Internet use could have been contributing to the adoption of English as a global standard language for international communication.
While some might scream "mono-culture" - that simply isn't what I'm talking about here. It is a well documented fact that a national language goes far in unifying a people. In the same way, English has unified many people around the world via the Internet. In some very small way, we were, in my humble opinion, rolling back the damage done by the Biblical tale of the Tower of Babylon. The world has been "getting smaller", and in large part that has been because of the Internet. I think this move will reverse that perception.
To sum it up - we can expect big money to create great domain space names, and attempt to market .com into obscurity; and, using a US English keyboard, where previously it was a gateway to information in every corner of the world, will now become a limiting factor - barring entrance to foreign sites for the average American. But hey - who cares, right? Most Americans don't actually get world-wide information from the Internet. Their computers are the little brother to their massive television sets, that broadcast 'truth' directly into their subconscious minds. After all - TV is only meant for mindless relaxation and reassurance; and, the Internet is just for Facebook games and Porn, right? As long as I can order my pizza online - I don't care what they do. Mmmm pizza and sitcoms - the American Dream. Go back to sleep .... go back to sleep. OH?! incoming facebook message on my phone! Oh it's just a someone using facebook to promote their blog... go back to sleep.... go back to sleep. zzzzz