Friday, June 22, 2012

Domain Madness

There's a whole new set of Internet generic top level domains (TLDs) coming. Not content with .com, .org and the lightly-used .biz and .info (to say nothing of all the country-specific TLDs), ICANN has expanded the TLD universe to, well, just about anything.

.lol? Check. .law? Bingo. For the price of several minutes of prime time TV advertising, anyone can get a TLD for anything. And perusing the list of applications looks like nothing so much as a wireless spectrum auction - strategic bidders (like Google), acquisitive upstarts and a host of speculators.

Except that wireless spectrum supports a cash-flowing business model and is scarce. TLDs are neither; they have all the utility of vanity license plates. Specific domains are getting less important with the growth of the social web and improvements in search algorithms. Most sites won't feel compelled to buy up their domain on every TLD. For Google and its ilk, buying a bunch of TLDs be justified as marketing, or research, or whatever - it's pure option value. But for speculators? It seems the dream of domain riches dies hard.

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