Tech Analyst Sees Slow Death for Competing TLDs

CYBERSPACE — Is the .XXX top-level domain doomed to fail because no one will remember it?

Last year saw its share of drama surrounding the proposed top-level domain, which would add a new region to the Internet filled with websites that all end in .XXX. The proposed TLD hasn't found its way into the registries yet, but even if it did, one prominent tech analyst thinks that all TLDs that aren't .com are doomed to fail.

TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid said that all of the hoopla surrounding flashy TLDs like .nyc, .law, .tv and others is misplaced because no one cares enough to remember the last few letters in a domain name.

"If ICANN does wind up releasing dozens or hundreds of new domain name extensions, extensions in general will become increasingly meaningless," he said. "Many people are already confused enough by the differences between common extensions like .net and .com. And they’ve generally rejected the overhyped extensions that are already out there, like .tv. Adding countless others to the mix will only make them more confused, to the point that they no longer care."

But Chris Dannen of FastCompany.com disagrees. Dannen pointed toward the success of traditional cybersquatting — where squatters buy attractive domains and sell them at huge prices — and predicted a similar bullish market for squatting in domains that have different top-level extensions.

"Call it the end of the .com world," he said. "Next year ICANN, the nonprofit that oversees domain name and IP address registration, will start taking applications for new domain name suffixes, creating the potential for billions of new addresses. But with the potential for new names comes an almost-certain rebirth of cyber squatting."

Dannen was referring to ICANN's decision to accept applications for new TLDs, which the organization approved last summer. They'll start accepting applications at the beginning of this year.

CM Registry President Stuart Lawley has been trying to secure the rights to a .XXX TLD for years, only to see his company's application killed by ICANN in March of 2006. ICANN's new application process seemed to have opened up a back door for his company to acquire the .XXX TLD. Lawley told XBIZ that he and his company "will continue to pursue .XXX to the very end."

Despite these new signs of life for .XXX, TopBucks' Q Boyer also sees a slow death coming for it, though not for the same reasons as Kincaid.

Mainly, Boyer told XBIZ he couldn't see webmasters with a successful stable of .com domains suddenly channeling a lot of resources into promoting a whole new stable of domains that happen to have a different suffix.

"I'd rather spend my time and money branding and promoting my existing .com adult sites," he said. "That's the extension surfers are used to, and in promoting .coms, I don't have to worry about satisfying a new set of rules established by some committee that I have no real voice in."

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