.CO Is No .COM

The .CO top-level domain is opening up over the next three months, and many are predicting it will soon be on par with .COM in terms of desirability. This belief is even built into the way the domain is being released. There are three stages: one for trademark holders, one for general advanced orders, and then one for every one else. The catch, of course, is the price. There is some variation between registrars, but the trademark holders and advanced orders are looking at a couple hundred dollars a pop for these domains. In return they get a jump on everyone else, as regular priced orders don’t start until July. If people didn’t expect a big demand, they wouldn’t pay the premium for the time advantage. And even after the premium periods, these domains will still be thirty bucks a year, well north of the $7 to $9 that most of us pay for our .COM domains.

Only 10 registrars will be handling .CO domains and they are hoping to hit it big. Mark Boost from LCN suggest that the .CO roll out “has the potential to become the biggest global domain since the 1985 launch of .COM”. David Andrews from domain.com predicts “we’ll see a rush of companies launching or re-launching their brands around their .CO name.”

Okay. I’ll buy that a boat-load, hell a fleet-load, of money will be spent for these domains. I don’t doubt that .CO will be far more successful than, say, .biz. I even believe that there will be an insane landrush and normal folks will be lucky to get obscure things like antiquebutterdishes.co.

But I don’t buy it replacing .COM or even seriously challenging it.

Consider phone-based businesses. 800 was the original US area code for toll-free numbers. As a result, there are companies with names like 1-800-flowers, 1-800-contacts, 1-800-batteries, and so on. Since then, 888, 877, and 866 have been rolled out as well. While 877 and 866 might be questionable, 888 is very catchy. So, where are the 1-888-whatever companies? I’m sure some exist, but it isn’t the same. “1-800″ has meant “call us free” in the US since 1967 and many other countries use 800 as the basis for their toll-free numbers as well. Other prefixes may be just as toll-free, but they don’t have the cache that 1-800 has.

Now think about the Internet. The term “dot com” is synonymous with the Internet. Businesses make “dot com plays.” People going to work for Internet companies say they are working for a “dot com.” The big implosion of Internet companies in the late 1990s and early 2000s was the end of a “dot com bubble.” The .COM top level domain has been around for 25 years now and is an intrinsic part of the Internet for most people. A few companies and organizations may have successfully branded a .net or .org domain, but by and large it is a .COM world.

The .biz top level domain was launched in 2001 as an alternative to the crowded .COM domain, and as of the end of 2009, there are over two million domains registered within .biz. That sounds great until you consider that there are almost 84 million .COM domains and .COM, picked over as it is, is still growing faster than .BIZ. Even .ORG and .NET are still growing faster than .BIZ. Past is not always prelude, but this shows how resilient .COM is in the face of competition.

Some people point out that “CO” as an abbreviation for company or corporation is more internationally recognized than “COM”. They also point out that a lot of country top-level domains use .CO as the second tier for business (e.g. amazon.co.uk). Both of these statements are absolutely true, but .com remains the big gun domain worldwide. If you don’t believe me, go to some non-US google sites and search for “dot com”. Heck, make it harder and limit the search to the last week. Google China found me 22,700 from the last week. Russia gave me 12,000. Japan coughed up a whopping 295,000 in the just the last seven days. Can you really imagine that global footprint eroding anytime soon?

I may be wrong. I have been before and no doubt will be again. As they say, time will tell. In a few years, we can all look at the stats and see whether .co had the chops to take on the champ. For now, if you want to buy a .co domain, go for it. Domain.com and GoDaddy will be happy to oblige you. I’ll stand by the title of this post: .CO is no .COM.

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2 Comments:

  1. Jason / 21-Apr-2010 20:39

    I think your article misses the point: .COM is taken… Not a single good URL available. The next big thing is .CO

  2. .CO DOMAIN NEWS / 13-Sep-2010 12:02

    Editor – CO Domain News
    First off, I think your article was well written…
    However, Jason has a good counterpoint.
    .COM IS SATURATED AND EXHAUSTED
    “Anyone that knows anything” about “Registering Internet Domain Names” knows that getting a good .com domain name has been over for years; the .com domain marketplace is completely saturated and exhausted! If you do not believe this fact, go to any domain registrar and type in – any word or combination of words “phrases” and you will soon note that the .com domain you had hoped for is gone, taken and for the most part unavailable.

    Enter a new domain extension .CO…
    CO Domain News is of the opinion that the new .CO is the best contender to come up against .COM in the last twenty years.
    Here’s why…
    1. Currently there are 122,073,947 registered domains across the .COM, .NET, .ORG, .INFO, .BIZ, and .US top level domains (TLDs). This means there are “essentially” few real opportunities left to secure a good .com or other top level domain; unless of course you make up a name that is not found in dictionary. We have all heard them, and they are getting to the point of ridiculous.
    2. In direct contrast to limited opportunities with .com and the gang — there is significant opportunity with the new .CO since there have only been 495,594 .CO’s registrations as Monday, September 13, 2010
    3. Because of this fact you have 121,578,353 more chances to secure a great .CO domain than with .COM or the other top level domains (TLDs).
    4. .CO is currently used in 60 countries as part of their TLD — E.G. Angloa – co.ao, United Kingdom – .co.uk, Zimbabwe – .co.zw, etc. It is not a stretch for these countries to embrace and adapt a new, shorter, less complicated version of their current extension.
    5. You can Geo-Target .CO to 239 countries worldwide — from “AF” Afghanistan to “ZW” Zimbabwe, in Google’s Webmaster Tools; their last entry is “ZZ” Unlisted, probably an inside joke for those who forget to Geo-Target and fall asleep at the wheel.
    I hope this helps brings some more insight and clarity to the new .co domain

    EDITOR – CO Domain News .COM

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