Heading off Suffix Squatters – Company Business and Marketing

Keith Kirkpatrick

HAVING “.COM” ATTACHED TO YOUR COMPANY NAME NO LONGER GUARANTEES financial success on Wall Street, but the ubiquitous suffix still reigns supreme on the Web. However, securing and keeping an intuitive, catchy dot-com domain name has become increasingly difficult as large firms hoard hundreds–even thousands–of unused yet registered names. To complicate matters, there’s no limit as to how many domains a company can register.

Although big companies often register and hold on to names for future branding purposes, many smaller name-grabbers are profit-seekers that simply sit on a name until someone comes along and offers a hefty amount of money to acquire the domain. So what’s a small-business owner to do if there are no more dot-com suffixes?

“Dot-com is the most desirable suffix because it’s the most well known,” says Bill Zalin, supervisor of business sales at Earthlink Networks (www.earthlink.net), a national ISP based in Pasadena, Calif. “The act of cybersquatting potentially puts a lot of people behind the eight ball.”

Luckily, a slew of new and intuitive suffixes–such as .tv; .cc; and country-specific domains, including .ca for Canada, .jp for Japan, and .mx for Mexico–offer a greater number of domain name options. The suffixes are available now through any registrar. In addition, there’s movement under way to create new and impressive suffixes–such as .inc, .work, .web, and .tel–that could become available sometime this year.

“You still want to leverage your company’s name, or the brand name, in the URL,” says Marc Holtenhoff, CEO of 1GlobalPlace Inc. (www.1globalplace. com), a Los Angeles-based domain name registrar. The new top-level domain suffixes–like the ones listed above–open up “more room for companies that originally wanted those top-level .com or .net domain names,” he says.

But experts are divided on how effective the new suffixes will be when it comes to staving off domain name stockpilers. Audrey Apfel, a vice president and research director at Gartner Group, a trend research firm in Stamford, Conn., says additional domain suffixes will simply exacerbate the cybersquatting problem by encouraging aggressive companies to register names with every available suffix.

“There really isn’t a shortage of names in the existing space,” Apfel says. “The problem has to do with the number of people who desire a particular name. I call dot-com the Fifth Avenue of cyber real estate–it’s become a cultural force in society,” she adds.

As new domain suffixes become available, Apfel suggests that small-business owners register a name as soon as possible because, before you know it, the new suffixes will be hot real estate as well.

Before registering your name with this new crop of suffixes, Zalin says it may be possible to find a dot-com name you like. “People think that all the good names are taken, sort of like when people say all the good women or men are taken,” Zalin says. “But there are always good names out there.”

COPYRIGHT 2001 Freedom Technology Media Group

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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