Yesterday, I purchased my shortest domain yet: PADFILE.COM. It cost me $80.00, which seems kind of expensive but I have plans for it and there are domains selling for many, many times more than that.
As .COM domains become more and more scarce, it has me thinking about the industry that has come about as a result of domains and the fact that there are a limited number of them available. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had no knowledge of domains. As someone who likes to build unique websites and make small business out of them, I now spend quite a bit of time searching, buying, and thinking about Internet domains.
Recently, I received a notice that a new top-level domain (TLD) is now available: domains of type .CO. This isn’t really a new domain; .CO has been used in the past to indicate a domain located in Columbia. But it is scheduled to become available worldwide, and registrars want you to instead understand .CO as an abbreviation for “Company,” “Corporation” and “Commerce” instead of “Columbia”.
I’m not sure this is a good move. The argument given is that we are running out of .COM domains names, which is true. But, if there is a domain XYZ.COM, what is the point of XYZ.CO. Well, many people would say both should be owned by the same company, XYZ. In that case, we don’t have a new domain available, we just have one more domain that the company needs to pay for. If, instead, you think a new company should be able to register XYZ.CO, then we really end up with results that are bound to confuse users.
Worse, one reason to own XYZ.CO is, if XYZ.COM is a popular website, people could easily mistype by leaving off the final letter and go to XYZ.CO instead. So cyber squatters will likely try and use .CO to gain traffic this way in addition to visits that could result from the confusion I described above. This issue is being addressed by allowing organizations with an existing global trademark to have first access to .CO domains exactly matching their trademarks. But, currently, .CO domains are running around $300/year instead of the $10/year charged for most domains.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The release of the new .CO domains has been delayed due, in part, to some controversy about the decision. I have no question .CO domains will be popular if it goes as planned—I’m sure I’ll be getting some of my own. But I really question the wisdom of this decision. I strongly suspect it is more about making more money than it is about addressing the fact that we are starting to run out of .COM domains.
Go Daddy has posted more information about this at http://www.godaddy.com/tlds/co-domain.aspx?ci=19152.