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What can dethrone .Com?

2011 September 6
by Nat


There’s a lot of discussion about whether any of the new gTLDs will knock .com off of its perch as the highest value extension.

I have a lot invested in .com domains, so I have a personal interest in the answer.  I may also have a bias, but I know my desires won’t affect the marketplace so I want to get the right answer.  If .com is going to be dethroned, I want to know ahead of time.


The evidence so far is that .Com is as strong as ever.  The same questions were asked when .info, .biz and .pro were released.  These new extensions had no discernible affect on .com values.

In certain country, such as Germany perhaps, the local ccTLD can be as valuable, or maybe even more valuable, than the .com.  So there is evidence that there can be alternatives to .com that can compete successfully with the .com extension.  If it can happen locally in a country the size of Germany, can it happen more globally?

Let’s step back and ask what makes .Com the most valuable extension currently.  One factor has to be the expectation among the average user that a business will have a dot-com address.  This is reinforced with 95%+ of the advertising, at least in the US, promoting dot-com addresses.    And likely 95% of the interactions that users and consumers have with Internet sites, again in the US, are with sites at dot-com addresses.

So what will change that?  My powers of imagination are not strong enough to envision a scenario where another extension would be so much more desirable than .com that the majority of the Internet economy will pick up and move to a new extension.

But what about Germany’s .de example, and England’s example, and the Netherlands .nl example, and so on.  What about the adoption of .me domains by start-ups?

What this means to me is that there can be a group with a shared identity that may adopt a different extension because within that group the culture and the expectations have adopted a new extension as an acceptable alternative to .com.  That is clearly possible with a country where the country code is already a part of their identity.  And it can be possible with different groups that actively create their own culture, such as perhaps with start-ups and .me or music lovers and .fm.

What would trigger the widespread adoption of an alternative extension by the society at large?  It may not be possible to predict.  But when the larger society is constantly reinforcing the dominance of the dot-com extension, where is the opening for another extension to take hold?

My guess is that instead of shaking .Com’s dominance, the new gTLDs will reinforce it.  The prevalence of a large number of new extensions will weaken the ability of any one of them to gain the market/mind share to challenge .com.

The best analogy was that in the beginning there was .com, .net and .org.  .Org had a separate identity for non-profits.  .Net was really a subset of .Com, as Networks were still Commercial entities.  My sense is that the extension that has been hurt the most by the release and commercialization of .biz, .info, .pro, .cc, .ws, .tv, .to, .co, etc. is .Net.  It used to be the leading alternative to .Com.  Now it is just one of many secondary extensions.

The release of dozens or hundreds of new gTLDs will create a Tower of Babel where confusion will reign, and where the desire for a common, shared language, which will be .Com, will be stronger than ever.


3 Responses leave one →
  1. Yaron permalink
    September 7, 2011

    I think one of the most important aspects of a new extension is WHO are the new registrars. If its domainers, there is a very good chance the extension is going nowhere. check the .mobi, .me and the new .co.
    However, if a new extension will get End Users to adopt it, the results will be better. One great example is the .biz – hated by domainers, but loved by Affiliate program marketers. This is the reason ccTLDs are so popular – People are USING them.
    Also – None of the new extensions will hurt the .com, but if you can guess which one will gain TRUE popularity, you now have a TRUE opportunity.

    • Nat permalink*
      September 7, 2011

      Yaron- I agree. Good points. Some people think the .eu extension was strangled at birth because investors registered all the valuable generics, leaving none for end-users. If one keeps an eye on the new gTLDs, and sees which extensions are being adopted by end-users, then as you say the domains in that extension will likely become more valuable and will create an opportunity. Thanks, Nat

  2. Rich permalink
    September 15, 2011

    Hello Nat
    Since you have started your blog i read all your articles, but i did not write because i disagreed with the second article”.co”.Beeing the second article i said to my self that you don’t know what your are talking about.I do apologize for that tough because apparently after i read this article i have change my mind.
    on the .co issue me and you dont think the same which is ok…but on this article i could never agree more.
    .com will get stronger after the confusion of the new tld’s
    .net got hurt because of all this new tld’s
    .co has great potential because they market the extension right and the fact that .co all ready got the big players attention Amazon,Twitter,Google,Overstock with one character domain name,gave the .co a big boost.

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