Posted Saturday, November 20, 2004
Would a rose.com by any other Top-Level-Domain (TLD) smell as sweet? Some entrepreneurs seem to think so. They're betting that they can profit by investing in the new dot-biz extensions set to go live this October. Once again, single generic words like "business" or "home" will be up for grabs for use in domains like business.biz or home.biz thanks to recent moves by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organisation in charge of managing the Internet's TLDs.
While dot-biz is not the only new TLD soon to be available, it is the one most likely to challenge dot-com for a share of the domain market for businesses and the one first expected to go live - making it the new TLD of choice for some. But how valuable dot-biz names will end up being remains to be seen.
Though the dot-biz TLD can clearly play a niche role as a less expensive alternative to dot-com, the dot-com extension has several advantages over the dot-biz TLD. First and foremost, the Internet grew up with the dot-com suffix and that three-letter extension has been firmly imprinted into the minds of every Internet user. This helps to explain why other General-TLDs like dot-net, and dot-org are not as popular or profitable as their dot-com counterpart.
Additionally, it seems likely that the biggest Internet players such as Amazon.com will buy up their dot-biz extension and merely redirect traffic to their dot-com site. Most of these companies have trademark rights to the name already and are allowed to apply for them before the general public.
This means two things: first, many very lucrative names will not be available for entrepreneurs to buy, and second that companies will not invest very much money to market their dot-biz extensions. Consequently the dot-com extension will not receive anywhere near the amount of marketing attention that went into promoting the dot-com TLD (don't expect the Super Bowl in 2002 to be for dot-biz what it was for dot-com in 1999!). Without this push, the dot-biz extension will probably remain in the background.
So it looks like the dot-com TLD will likely be the market leader for the foreseeable future. But while many of "the best" dot-com names are already registered, many are not being used. A recent study shows that as much as half of the registered domain names are not in use. The domain market will therefore center around trading names with the dot-com extension that have already been registered on markets like Sedo.co.uk, or Greatdomains.com. Here buyers and sellers of already- registered names can connect with one another to utilize their valuable dot-com domains.
But while the dot-biz extension will not eclipse dot-com, it definitely will have an important secondary role as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to dot-com. Just don't think that business.biz to fetch the $7.5 million that its dot-com predecessor did anytime soon.
About the Author
Kevin Clune is the Country Manager for the US, UK and Ireland at Sedo GmbH (www.sedo.co.uk). Sedo is the leading European domain exchange with over 250,000 unique visitors to its German, English, French, Spanish, Swedish and Dutch Sites.