“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.” These are the immortal words from Shakespeares’s Romeo and Juliet, spoken to Romeo by Juliet. In the past, I have often had many women reciting love poetry to me – but talking about that would be going off on a tangent and missing Juliet’s point.

Juliet’s point being – if Romeo’s last name were not Montague, then there wouldn’t be such a kerfuffle over them being in love. Names shouldn’t matter – just their love. But as we know, that wasn’t enough and things didn’t go too well for the young couple.

 

names matter. A lot. In fact, they are perhaps the most important thing.

But do names matter? Should names matter? On the interweb, just to prove Juliet wrong, names matter. A lot. In fact, they are perhaps the most important thing.

It’s been reported that insurance.com was the biggest domain name sale in history at $35.6m dollars – but that had a functioning business behind it. The largest domain only name sale in history was — well, let’s just say it was a three letter .com that began with an ‘s’ and ended with an ‘x’. I’m sure you can fill in the blank. And that sold for $13m.

Yes, that’s right. Thirteen million dollars – just for a name.

The market in domain names is really interesting – and is only just now becoming ripe for further exploration. It used to be that having a .com or a .net address was such a big thing. But with all the TLDs (Top Level Domain) names now available, so much more is possible. gTLDs (generic TLDs as opposed to country code TLDs) aren’t a new thing – .biz and .info were activated in 2001, and a whole raft of new gTLDs began in 2012 and went live by the end of 2013 – but, so far, they haven’t caught fire like .com. To date, over 1,200 new domains have been delegated including domains such as .cloud, .online, .shop, and .blog.

The man who sold that three letter dot com name for $13m, Rick Schwartz, wrote in a blog entry at the end of 2015 that gTLD are mostly worthless. There would be a few outliers, he says, that would get traffic and could be valuable (e.g. home.loans sold for $500,000 in January 2018) – but in almost every case a .com would be the better bet and it’s not worth wasting time and money on gTLD domain names.

I remember really well a technology ‘expert’ talking a number of years ago about the threat that online music would pose to CD sales. The expert confidently predicted that people like to have something tangible – they want the physical product in their hands – so while online music had seen a huge growth by that time, it was a bit of a phase and it wouldn’t mean much in the long run for CD sales.

And I think we all know how well that expert’s opinion has proven to be.

Similarly, whilst having made a fortune in domain names, I can’t help but think that Rick Schartz is like the music expert: he’s seen something and been used to something for so long that he can’t see anything else. And whilst we have to acknowledge his success and expertise, there always comes a time for a new generation to come along and to do things differently.

And so, I think, it will prove with gTLDs. Over the last few years we’ve seen many tech companies registering and using .io domains – and whilst not a gTLD (it’s actually a ccTLD – country code TLD – for the British Indian Ocean Territory) I think it shows the direction that the whole domain name market will go.

Mou Mukherjee, Head of Registry Operations, .Cloud agrees by saying, “new gTLDs (generic top-level domain) will become commonplace as more recognised brands and startups start getting creative with the unlimited potential of this namespace.” Of course, as someone with a leading role in a gTLD registrar, we might expect some bias – but I do not think that’s the case: rather, it’s someone with relevant, up to date, expert knowledge pointing out a clear fact that the world will soon catch up with.

Mou went on to say that, “looking forward to 2018, while only 6.4 percent of the 330.7 million domains registered are new gTLDs, the industry can expect to see more recognised and trusted brands dipping their hands into this namespace. With endless possibilities, expect to see brands coming out with creative domain choices to launch new initiatives such as cloud-based platforms, storefronts and communities.”

 

It is true that the internet is led by .com / .net sites and that the market for domain names is still dominated by .com sales – but that doesn’t mean┬áto say that this won’t change in the coming years.

.Com used to be the star of the show. But it won’t stay like that forever.

.Com used to be the star of the show. But it won't stay like that forever.Click To Tweet

In a recent piece, I suggested that soon the term IoT (Internet of Things) could be cast aside, perhaps even by the end of this year, as what we currently call IoT becomes more and more synonymous with The Cloud itself. In speaking with people outside of the tech industry, I am aware of how many people know about “The Cloud” – but aren’t exactly sure what it is. I haven’t ventured further to inquire on their thoughts about IoT – but I am sure I would just get blank looks in return.

In my mind, it is simple to envisage the near future when non-techy people ask their tech-savvy relatives, “how does my Alexa or [insert name here of whatever IoT device!] work?” – the simplest answer to give to the non-techy will be that it is the cloud that makes it work.

While a .io domain name will seem very cool for a tech person, it will mean nothing to the average man or woman on the street. And whilst everyone will be aware of .com or .co.uk etc. it will surely become more and more normal to visit a .cloud website when looking for information on something powered by “The Cloud” in the near future.

There are a lot of TLDs available – it’s actually hard to see all of them thriving, but there are so many good TLDs that it’s almost impossible to imagine that they won’t come into their own sooner rather than later. As Mou has suggested, 2018 could be the tipping point where we see big brands taking the leap and showing the power that gTLDs have.