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

With 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, people have wondered: 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 wrote, "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 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.

Laurel Sutton is a partner and co-founder at Catchword, a full-service naming firm.

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