Catch This

No Boom, No Rush, No Difference: The .com Domains Will Still Rule

In the wake of ICANN’s decision to increase the number of Internet domain name endings — called generic top-level domains (gTLDs) — from the current 22, which includes such familiar domains as .com, .org and .net, everyone is asking the big question: Is .com no longer king?

Short answer: No.

You can stop reading now if that’s all you wanted to know!

While it’s great that ICANN is allowing new gTLDs to “unleash the global human imagination” (that’s actually what they say on their website), the reality is that at the current price – $185,000 – very few entities will be able to create their own domains. We all know who the first will be: Apple, Coke, Disney, Sony, etc. Each of these companies wants to protect and promote their own brand and has the cash to drop on domains. I say domains because Coke will want .coke, .coca-cola, and .cocacola, and Disney will grab .disney, .disneyland, .disneyworld, .disneyprincesses, etc.

But then what? What will Coke or Disney gain from these additional domains? It’s not like they’re going to give up coke.com and disney.com. They’re not likely to act like a proper registrar and allow other folks to register domains with them, because then they’d have to monitor all the content at those domains, to keep their brand from being tarnished. Sure, they could put up additional, specialized websites, but they’re doing that already. What exactly will they get out of this, other than brand protection and the coolness of having email addresses that use the company name?

I agree with Ron Jackson of DNJournal, who writes, “There is no need for countless new TLDs. ICANN has come up with a solution for a ‘problem’ that doesn’t exist.”

Sure, there might be other entities that have the bucks to create their own gTLD, but could they not do the same thing with any of the other under-used domains that exist, like .info, .biz, and .mobi ? Unless it’s a pure vanity move, it really doesn’t make much sense (you can be sure that .trump and .hilton will be snapped up in record time). I will be very curious to see who actually takes the plunge on these new domains. Perhaps the market will really be in non-English, non-romanized writing systems, for which the new domains will serve a cultural purpose.

In the meantime, .com domains are still selling for thousands of dollars. Check out this list of generic domains, along with their asking prices:

  • slippery.com – $75k
  • snackfoods.com – $150k
  • softdrinks.com – $250k
  • strategyguides.com – $25k
  • streamingvideo.com – $50k
  • tabloid.com – $75k
  • teachings.com – $50k
  • tonics.com – $25k
  • transmissionrepair.com – $75k
  • travelspecials.com – $50k
  • unleaded.com – $15k
  • valets.com – $25k
  • whitewines.com – $75k
  • womensfashions.com – $25k

Not bad! Even for non-generic domains, the prices remain high. As a professional namer, I often broker deals for our clients, and this year has been busier than ever. In one case, we got the seller of a four-letter .com domain (no, not *that* kind of domain!) down from $40k to $30k; for another 4-letter .com domain, we got the price down to $25k. Although neither of those names were real English words, the domains were short, easy to spell and pronounce, and didn’t have any negative meaning.

In the case of an actual English word – again, a short one – we helped a client license a domain from the owner, who was too attached to it to actually sell it. There were other conditions put on the deal as well, but we all felt it was worth it to get the price down from $250k to $100k. A bargain!

And then then there’s the client who wanted a simple, “sticky” name. We took two real English words, put them together – and we were as shocked as anyone to find that the domain was available! it was the best $11.50 we spent this year. It just goes to show that even in the .com world, there are still great names – and great domains – to be had.

All trademarks & logos are the intellectual property of their respective companies and hereby acknowledged.

Posted: Thursday, July 14th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Laurel Sutton

Veteran naming strategist and co-founder of Catchword
  1. Tom Galvani

    With the upcoming release of the .xxx TLDs in a few months, what are your thoughts on whether the adult entertainment industry will voluntarily move over to the new domains? Will that happen, or will most companies simply seek to register their names and marks as a defensive measure?

    • Laurel Sutton

      Great question, Tom. I’d go with the latter – lots of defensive registrations, and most of the p0rn industry grabbing the same domains as they have as .coms. There will likely be some small uptake on the .xxx domains for smaller players – as there has been for .mobi, .biz, and .info – but there won’t be a wholesale shift to the new domains. There never is, no matter how many new TLDs are introduced!

  2. Scott Andrews

    What are your thoughts on the 1-year old .CO tld (www.cointernet.co)? I find it very interesting that overstocked.com has rebranded themselves as O.CO with Amazon, Twitter, and now Google buying into this rebranded TLD as well.

    • Laurel Sutton

      Scott, I have to say that I don’t think .co will ever be as valuable as .com. It’s certainly got some novelty use, as in the case of o.co, and lots of big companies will of course register the .co to keep someone else from taking it. I haven’t seen any other major attempts to rebrand as .co – as far as I can tell, Amazon is still Amazon.com. I’ve yet to see a TLD that can challenge .com. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ with it. :-)

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