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Old Habits Die Hard!

The new domains are coming! “Dot-biz is going to be the next coming of dot-com”, I recently read in an article in the Denver Post. The buzz has begun. Seven new top-level domains have been approved by ICANN, the organization that governs domains, and could be available as early as spring of this year. The new domains approved are .biz, .info, .aero, .coop, .musuem, .pro, and .name.

Pre-registration sites like, PreRegisterYourDomains.com, already have begun taking applications claiming, “3 million domain names will be registered in the first five minutes.” That same Denver Post article later says ‘If predictions from analysts hold true (that dot-biz will rival the popularity of dot-com), startups will no longer have to settle for second-tier domain names’! Not a chance and here’s why:

Word Association. Ask anyone the first three words that come to mind when you say ‘Internet’ and one will almost always be ‘dot-com’ along with ‘web’ or ‘surfing.’ Dot-com is forever chiseled into our brain directly associated with the Internet. ‘Old habits die hard.’ The new domains will confuse the average everyday web surfer. With so many suffixes it will be harder to find the information they are looking for. Out of frustration they will, most likely, resort to the old standby, dot-com.

Marketing. Big businesses like IBM and Microsoft have already spent billions promoting their dot-coms’ in print, and media advertising. Is Microsoft going to switch to promoting Microsoft.biz instead of Microsoft.com? This is highly unlikely.

Brand Protection. The same people who own the corresponding dot-com will most likely buy up most of the dot-biz (said to be restricted to business only) and dot-info (open to anyone) to protect their valuable brand. Someone with fishland.com is not going to want someone else to own fishland.biz and fishland.info. The real winners here are the lawyers, who will be kept busy for years with trademark infringement disputes.

Meaning. None of the new top-level domains are as elegant or as classy as the dot-com, which can mean ‘communication’ or ‘commercial’. Dot-biz obviously stands for ‘business,’ but it sounds too. ‘Information’, the meaning of dot-info, would be perfect if it was restricted to sites with a high concentration of information about a certain topic, but it’s not! This domain is unrestricted, and can be registered by anyone. Surfers will quickly lose trust that all dot-info sites actually contain quality information. Dot-pro and Dot-name will be effective but on a limited level. To register a dot-pro you must ‘prove’ you are a professional on the topic in the domain name. Dot-name will be for individuals’ names only (good luck to all the John Smiths out there!)

Appeal. Sure the new TLD’s, especially dot-biz, will make it easier for smaller companies to get a web address that fits their business. But will it be as appealing as a dot-com? Those businesses that have a dot-biz domain may seem to be in a different class than the dot-com and it may be harder for them to compete. They could be much better off spending more money for a dot-com domain. Even with the recent doom of a few dot-com companies, there are many that are still going strong and they continue to breathe life into the dot-com world. The only new TLD applicant that might have been able to rival the dot-com for appeal was dot-web. Unfortunately the application for dot-web is still to be approved by ICANN.

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