More domain name choices coming your way

What's in a name? An industry insider gives his spiel on the issue of domain names.

Anyone who has tried to register a .com domain name knows just how hard it is to do so. ItŒE not that the process itself is difficult. You can go to any number of registration sites like and conveniently place your order online.

What makes it so tough is the dearth of available names. Practically every single-word name has already been taken and one would be hard pressed to even find a double-word name that is still available.

As an experiment, I checked on the availability of three random double-word names that happened to pop into my mind a split second ago: purplebanana, crazymountain and monsterbreath.

Guess what? With the first two names, the .com, .net and .org versions were all taken. For the last one, .com and .net were taken although the .org version was still available at the time of writing.

Why anyone would want odd names like those are beyond me. But, it clearly illustrates just how difficult it is to find the exact name you desire for your dot-com.

Perhaps that is why during the go-go years of the Internet boom many companies paid unbelievable sums of money for domain names they wanted.

Some companies paid a few thousand dollars while others paid tens of thousands. A rare few even paid a few hundred thousands, but the record setter was eCompanies which paid US$7.5 million for ""

The company justified its purchase by saying that the familiar namewould help it save costs in brand building. Personally, I find it doubtful that generic-sounding names like is good for branding. Think about it. When you want to buy books, do you type in or do you type in

For those who rue the fact that it is almost impossible to find any more .com names, there is hope. Coming this summer, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) will be introducing seven new top level domain (TLD) names to complement .com, .net and .org.

Last year, ICANN accepted submission for new TLDs, and in November it approved .biz, .info, .aero, .pro, .name, .coop, and .museum.

Originally, each of these TLDs had a specific purpose: .com was meant for commercial use, .org for non-profit organizations and .net for public networks. However, this soon degenerated into a free-for-all and today, a domain name ending with .net or .org could very well be for a commercial website. Likewise a domain name ending with .com could be for a non-profit organization or a public network. These days, they are all used interchangeably.

With the seven new names, ICANN plans to be more stringent so the mess that has occurred with the existing three TLDs will not be repeated.

As their names suggest, .aero is for the air transport industry; .biz is for businesses; .coop for cooperatives; .museum is for museums; .name is for individuals; and .pro is for accountants, lawyers and doctors. Only .info is available for unrestricted use.

To be fair to trademark holders, most of the companies that own the right to sell these new TLDs have announced that they will implement what is called a "sunrise process" whereby trademark holders can apply for names that exactly match their trademarks, during an exclusive pre-registration period. This is meant to prevent Cybersquatters from hijacking trademarked names.

The TLD that is most relevant to Internet companies is naturally .biz. However, NeuLevel, the company running the .biz domain name, will not have a "sunrise process."