Home / Blogs

Realizing There's More to Life Than .COM, Europe and Asia Already Do

Antony Van Couvering

It's getting so hard to find a decent .COM domain name that a big weed patch of businesses has grown up hawking really terrible names for enormous prices — and they're finding buyers. They're catering to people who are just trying to find something — anything! — that will work for their new web site. The problem is especially acute for those who are trying to start a business.

For instance, have a look at Brand Bucket, a shop that specializes in "unique brand-rich domain names for your business."

Despite this fine write-up, their names will kill a business before it even gets started — assuming the prices they charge don't kill it first. These are from the "Internet" and "consulting" areas of their site:

  • seodaddy.com - $4895 (Get sued by GoDaddy!)
  • mockit.com - $4895 (OK — neener neener neener)
  • credulo.com - $1495 (If you're credulous, buy credulo.com!)
  • cacheup.com - $1295 (Would you like some mustard too?)

But maybe (you're thinking), this BrandBucket business is just for the unwary, just as you can pay $25 for a bad cup of coffee at certain New York hotels. It must be better on the open market, right?

No, it's not any better anywhere. Check out AfterNIC, one of the larger domain name auction platforms.

AfterNIC has a different style of terrible name. They don't choose the names, like BrandBucket — these are names being offered for sale by their sellers, à la eBay. At AfterNIC, there's a different — but consistent — style of awfulness. If instead of a doomed-from-the-start Web 2.0-type name from BrandBucket, you prefer a second-class affiliate marketing name, this is the place. I searched AfterNIC for .COM names in the categories "internet" and "consulting" to try to get a good comparison with BrandBucket. I also started at $5000 or less, skipping such must-haves as ontheinternetmortgage.com at $125,000:

  • einternetconsulting.com — $5000 (The extra "e" is for effort)
  • internettwopointoh.com — $5000 (Oh! Oh!)
  • internetdisabilityinsurance.com — $3900 (Huge market there)
  • 64kinternetmarketing.com — $2000 (Even Bill Gates learned you need more than 64K)

I'm not just cherry-picking — try it yourself. And although BrandBucket and AfterNIC are my examples, the names they offer are no worse than you'll find at other sites. Like any business they're just responding to a need — in this case, the need for decent, brandable names for web businesses. Domain names under .COM, at any venue, are without exception jaw-droppingly bad below about $50,000, and often above that price as well.

When people are paying thousands of dollars for horrible names, it's hard to credit the argument that we don't need new generic top-level domain names.

New top-level domains will not only make it easier to find a decent domain at a decent price, they will, just by the fact of being introduced in large numbers, make people realize that there's more to life than .COM. In Europe, in Asia, they already do: many business use, as well as .COM, the top-level domain for their country as well as for neighboring countries, as well as .EU and .ASIA. With the introduction of a spate of new top-level domains, we will see some sanity returning to pricing here in the U.S. as well.

Follow CircleID on
Related topics: Domain Names, New TLDs
SHARE THIS POST

If you are pressed for time ...

... this is for you. More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Vinton Cerf, Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet

Share your comments

81.6 million .com 12.3 million .net7.7 million Paul Tattersfield  –  Aug 11, 2009 5:23 PM PDT

81.6 million .com
12.3 million .net
7.7 million .org
5.2 million .info
2.0 million .biz
1.6 million .us (.com reached 1.6 million registrations in 1997)

Given there are currently over 50 times more .com than .us registrations. Why do you think people and companies in the US prefer to try and find a suitable .com rather than use .us?

Do you think having more gTLDs especially geographical/locational ones like .nyc or .la etc. will help, hinder or have no effect on people considering making a .us registration?

. COM is the substitute for .US Antony Van Couvering  –  Aug 11, 2009 7:09 PM PDT

. COM is the substitute for .US for Americans-- it has become the "natural" TLD for US residents.  Geographical TLDs, like city names, will be used especially by local businesses and by national or global businesses who want to highlight their presence in those cities.  .COM has an overwhelming first-mover advantage when it comes to general-purpose registrations.  The new TLDs will be all about exploiting the niches. They may not grow to 80MM, but they will be prized by businesses who are in those niches.

Some domainers are brilliant, but many Nozomi Yumehara  –  Aug 12, 2009 12:20 PM PDT

Some domainers are brilliant, but many are dumb.  You can definitely get good .COM domains for free and for reasonable prices, I mean, just because some idiot wants $5000 for einternetconsulting.com doesn't mean he's going to get it.

The main issue I've seen is people who don't understand the value of domains who register meaningless neologisms; those are great for certain things (wanting to make a new brand out of thin air) but suck for SEO.  I've gotten SEO clients who have a bad domain and they're shocked when I tell them to go back and register ten domains that have good keywords in them.

There are also domainers that sell domains for reasonable prices and really make sales.  I've seen plenty of domains sell in the $500 to $1000 range which were worth every penny.  You can spend $2k-$200k in programming, graphic arts and writing to create a web site, and spending a few $k for a domain isn't nuts.

AntonyYes .com is "king" and there are Michele Neylon  –  Aug 12, 2009 3:17 PM PDT

Antony

Yes .com is "king" and there are plenty of gullible people who will spend stupid amounts of money on rubbish domains just to have the .com in the domain.

However, there are also a lot of really good names available in the aftermarket that won't break the bank and are actually proper words. A quick browse of the names listed on BuyDomains.com and Sedo will find you plenty of "sane" domains at prices much more realistic than the examples you cited.

And of course there's no reason why you can't build a strong brand using a ccTLD.

The internet is global and is not just America, so there are plenty of fantastic online businesses out there that trade off ccTLD domains. Would they be any better with the .com? Doubtful.
Do they care? I doubt it.

Granted, if you want to attack the global market having the .com is probably the sanest option, but it doesn't have to be the only option.

Regards

Michele

Anthony,I find myself at odds with your Robert Birkner  –  Aug 13, 2009 4:41 PM PDT

Anthony,

I find myself at odds with your statement, "New top-level domains will not only make it easier to find a decent domain at a decent price, they will, just by the fact of being introduced in large numbers, make people realize that there's more to life than .COM". More doesn't necessarily translate to better, especially when more may add just confusion.

There is an underlying reason why people register SEVEN times more .com domains than any other gTLD.  Even though net/org/info/biz/etc have been around for a long time, none of them (or as a group) have come close to matching .com.  People are familiar with .com and it is the first place consumers go (even browsers default to .com when someone forgets to enter the extension). Based on history and seeing the millions spent by other registries to change the mindset of consumers with little results, I doubt a new TLD or a group of TLDs are going to change anything.  My contention is that even with nTLDs the .com gorilla is only going to get bigger.

A primary factor in the success of a new TLD will be the support from registrars.  Domains have been a commodity for a long time (narrow profit margins) and the cost of implementation and maintenance of additional TLDs likely will not make financial sense to them in today's operational reality.  Without the overwhelming support of the registrars, many of these TLDs simply won't get the attention they need to possibly be successful.

The idea of nTLDs is sexy and stirs an emotional response.  However, if we look beyond the smoke and mirrors, distilling our industry down to how we operate and how we make money, it would be wise to ask ourselves some fundamental questions:

- What are truly the possible consequences of more gTLDs?
- What if a TLD fails in three to five years?
- In the case of failure what happens to the registrants?
- Also if a registry fails who is responsible for cleaning up the mess?

Warm regards,

Robbie

It may be a symptom of how Antony Van Couvering  –  Aug 13, 2009 5:27 PM PDT

It may be a symptom of how far we've come gone down the road of scarcity to think of domain names at $500 or even $200 as being "reasonable."

@Nozomi Yumehara — where can you get good .COM domain names for free? 
@Michele - how much, in your opinion, will "not break the bank"?
@Robbie - if domain names are such a commodity, why are they being sold for high prices?

All of these comments, to me, are examples of why we really need to rethink the domain name space in a radical way.  I find it ironic that people can complain on the one hand about an "ICANN tax" (vide Bob Parsons) and at the same time accept it as perfectly natural that a meaningless four-character extension on a name (.-c-o-m) adds tremendous value.  Somehow, it's become acceptable that trivial database entries are worth a fortune.  The only way they have become so is artificial scarcity.  The way out of that is to reduce the scarcity, which in the case of domain names (as opposed to, say, Ferraris) is very inexpensive. 

Robbie Birkner raises some questions I've heard before, and I appreciate it that he's given me the opportunity to answer them.

People are familiar with .com and it is the first place consumers go - um, yes, except in places other than the U.S.  ccTLDs are growing much faster than .COM, and even some domainers have weaned themselves off the KoolAid (e.g., Rick Latona) and are very aware of the value in ccTLDs.

My contention is that even with nTLDs the .com gorilla is only going to get bigger. - the growth curve for .com is flattening; for ccTLDs (and I think for new TLDs) it remains strong.

Without the overwhelming support of the registrars, many of these TLDs simply won't get the attention they need to possibly be successful. - Am I the only one who has noticed that with the exception of GoDaddy, registrars are among the worst marketers the online world has ever seen?  Any new TLD that relies on registrars to make their market is certifiably insane.  A much better idea is to handle the marketing yourself or else team up with someone who has a clue.  If you are driving demand yourself, you don't need registrars, you just need one registrar. 

The idea of nTLDs is sexy and stirs an emotional response. - Especially among domainers and trademark owners.

What are truly the possible consequences of more gTLDs? - In my opinion, they are (a) increased consumer choice; (b) cheaper prices for usable names; (c) an opening up of the very cosy domain name industry; (d) better policing of namespaces by the people running them; (e) exposure and hopefully abandonment of some silly ICANN rules that only barely worked for a .com-centric universe (e.g., registry-registrar separation) and will make no sense in the future.

What if a TLD fails in three to five years? - Then another registry will pick them up.  The incremental cost is very small to a registry operator, and most with have cross-agreements to do this in the event of failure (as happened with .name).  Please note that failure may have nothing to do with consumer acceptance; it could come from something as dumb as investing with Bernie Madoff.  Also ICANN has been on the ball here and is escrowing data *and* requiring registries to prove they have the operating capital to keep the thing going for five years.  My prediction: not a single domain registrant will lose a name due to registry failure.

In the case of failure what happens to the registrants? - See above.

Also if a registry fails who is responsible for cleaning up the mess? Also see above — but what makes you think there will be a mess.  The data is escrowed, including whois data.  Contingency plans are required.  Other registrars will be delighted to pick up the business.  The wholesale move from one registry operator to another is usually not a big deal.  Our sister company CoCCA has done several of these, via EPP, in the last year.

Antony

Somehow, it's become acceptable that trivial database Paul Tattersfield  –  Aug 14, 2009 4:26 AM PDT

Somehow, it's become acceptable that trivial database entries are worth a fortune.  The only way they have become so is artificial scarcity

Creating new gTLDs like .nyc .shop .store .movie etc. won’t have any significant effect on .com prices. It’s a bit like saying if we add more land to Nebraska it will ease property prices in Manhattan.

It isn’t artificial scarcity that drives the prices because the value in .com isn’t created by VeriSign. The value comes from the implicit branding day in day out from corporate communications and advertising.

Ironically the more new gTLDs that are launched the more end users will move to .com because the big problem with using a new gTLD is you have to brand not only your goods and services but also the TLD itself and each new gTLD makes that task a little harder.

What are truly the possible consequences of more gTLDs? …hopefully abandonment of some silly ICANN rules that only barely worked for a .com-centric universe (e.g., registry-registrar separation) and will make no sense in the future.

This is naïve, smaller [new] registries have the most to loose if the registrar-registrar separation rules are relaxed. It’s all to do with scale.

Different strokes for different folks Virendra Gandhi  –  Aug 18, 2009 8:03 AM PDT

Makes no sense. Today dot com is unbeatable and expecting to earn from any other TLD is wishful thinking.

Unbeatable? There have been plenty of good Michele Neylon  –  Aug 18, 2009 8:08 AM PDT

Unbeatable? There have been plenty of good sales in cctlds and there are plenty of successful businesses using cctlds instead of .com.

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related

Topics

New TLDs

Sponsored byAfilias

Cybercrime

Sponsored byThreat Intelligence Platform

Whois

Sponsored byWhoisXML API

Cybersecurity

Sponsored byVerisign

DNS Security

Sponsored byAfilias

IP Addressing

Sponsored byAvenue4 LLC

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign