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Are all the .coms really all .gone?

With standard domain names running out, something is going to have to change.

This article in Forbes contends that all of the .coms, or at least those of reasonable length, are used up. The article also contends that the best solution to the perceived lack of .com global top-level domain names (GTLD) is to use a .me extension, which got me thinking of ICANN’s announcement back in June that it had received almost 2,000 requests for generic TLDs for categories such as .hotel, .web and .blog.

As much as this seems like a good idea, I really think these alternate top-level domain names will remain an augmentation to what companies are already using or registered for very niche offerings. The thought behind the expansion of the GTLDs from the traditional .com, .net, .etc, and all of the country codes is that companies or groups of companies would use these. For example, Ford Motors might choose to have URLs such as car.ford or truck.ford, or perhaps the group might choose to use a naming convention such as ford.cars and gm.cars, something that might make accessing these sites more intuitive.

However, I think the practical reality is that almost all companies will want the .com version too, since that’s so engrained in our society that even if Ford were to buy these they would still maintain ford.com. I just can’t see any company out there not wanting a .com and perhaps even a .net version of their URL. Imagine if a company chose not to use some form of a .com name? It would open them up to fraudsters using that name for nefarious acts.

The article does state that it’s the shorter .com domain names that have been used up, which is true, so one approach would be to create a couple of different versions of the same domain name. I remember years ago, juniper.com was actually the on-line bank, Juniper Bank, so Juniper Networks used juniper.net and junipernetworks.com. Since then, they’ve acquired juniper.com, so it isn’t an issue any more.

So, does this new world of GTLDs really provide viable options for companies? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean .coms are going away. To me, the .whatevers are more ideal for some niche use cases, maybe like a group of guys wanting to track fantasy football stats or other private uses cases. Any organization looking to create a public presence on the Internet can use one of these alternates as an augmentation to their web presence, but the company should still have a viable .com.

This brings us back to the problem that all the shorter domain names are gone. What should a company do? The answer to this is easy: just find another domain name. Let’s say that ford.com is used, Ford Motor Company could use fordmotors.com, fordco.com, etc. In fact, when registering on godaddy.com or verisign or other domain registries, they’ll give you a bunch of options to use.

So, while the Forbes article is interesting, it’s simply not realistic. It may be a bit more work to find a .com today than it was 10 years ago, but there are plenty of .coms left.

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