domain name land rush looming
Alan Zisman (c) 2010 First published in Business
May 25 - 31, 2010 issue #1074
High Tech Office column
t’s easy to take domain names for granted. You type, say, www.biv.com
into your browser, and a few seconds later, Business in Vancouver’s
website opens up. But behind the scenes, there’s a lot going on. For
example, your request for biv.com goes to a server running a database
that translates biv.com into a numeric Internet address: something like
Also behind the scenes: a network of domain name registration services
making it possible for organizations and individuals to get the use of
their desired domain names. Or at least to try to get their desired
domain name. According to Webhosting.info
, there are nearly 113 million
domain names registered, 84 million of them ending in .com. You want to
register, say, plumbing.com? Forget about it!
Domain names can be bought, traded and sold. Recently, photo.com sold
for US$1.25 million, though nycdivorcelawyers.com fetched a mere $400.
Domain name registrars sit in between those wanting to use domain names
and the organizations that manage the so-called top-level domain names
– the last group of letters in a web address, including the Canadian
Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) for .ca, and the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is in charge
of .com and others.
is a domain name wholesaler with a recently opened B.C. operation that
resells domain names and provides services to registrars and
I spoke with chief strategy officer Robert Birkner at the company’s
Surrey office. He foresees an increase in the number of top-level
domains (TLDs in the trade), triggering a land rush of domain name
According to Birkner, some country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) have
been popular recently, allowing businesses new possibilities for
memorable web addresses. Montenegro-based .me and Tuvalu’s .tv have
been registered for websites by businesses that may have had little
idea where Montegro or Tuvalu are.
Birkner predicted that a new generation of TLDs including company
names, city names and generic descriptors will open up the possibility
of web addresses ending in .ibm, .paris, or .wine.
He said ICANN is drafting specifications for these sorts of so-called
generic TLDs, and that he expects that they will be accepting
applications for them in 2011.
This could result in new web addresses like sales.ibm or cameras.canon.
Should Business in Vancouver (or your company) register its own TLD?
Should the City of Vancouver try to get .vancouver?
Birkner expects anywhere from 200 to 500 for these upcoming generic
domains, which he predicts will sell in the neighbourhood of $185,000
each; popular TLDs may be put up for auction. Buyers would, in some
cases (think .ibm or .biv), keep the domain for internal use, while the
owner of a term like .wine might profit selling names for websites
ending in that suffix – www.snob.wine, anyone?
While some of these new TLDs may prove popular and effective, Birkner
fears that others might not be around five years from now. He points
out that much of an earlier round of TLD expansion a few years ago
failed to catch on. Proposed domains like .travel and .jobs were
simultaneously too generic and too restrictive.
In the mid-1990s, some people, anticipating the Internet boom,
registered company names and trademarks, selling them to the trademark
holder or its competitor. Now, trademark holders have the right to
domain names using their trademarks, and there is a dispute-resolution
mechanism in place should conflicts arise. Despite this, according to
Birkner, trademark holders are not thrilled with the proposed expansion
in TLDs, fearing a new generation of squabbles.
For more on Hexonet’s perspective on what changes in domain names could
mean for you and your business, visit www.blog.hexonet.net
The domain name industry heavies will be coming to Vancouver June 8-10
for the TRAFFIC Domain Conference and Expo. More information about that
is available at www.targetedtraffic.com