There are already over 400 new gTLDs available right now, such as .music, .shop, .love, .nyc, .eco., .news, .hotel, .dentists, and .money, with thousands more soon to come. There is a huge debate within the domain industry as to whether or not these domains will succeed, and if they do, will .com still remain king. Some say a rising tide lifts all boats, meaning an expansion of the domain business will help all domains. Others say all this competition will kill .com domain prices.
Let’s not forget that since the beginning, people could register .net, .org domains, and then in the early 2000’s ccTLD (country based) domains became available (such as .nu., .ws, .cc). In fact, I hand-registered many amazing one word ccTLD domains on the first day each of these registries opened, but back then there was no domain parking and no domain auctions/markets, so after 4-5 years I decided the $30/year renewal fee per domain was not worth it (none of those extensions had really taken off) and I let the domains go.
More recently, there has been a lot of action in the .info, .tv, .biz and .co markets. Even .io is being used by many cool tech startups. I would consider these big successes. But, how many extensions failed that we forget about (.mobi anyone)? And, how many years did investors have to hold these winning domains before they were able to profit from them? And, will these soon be crushed by all the new domain extensions?
Up until a few years ago, any non-.com domain was on the fringe of the domain business. The general public had almost no understanding of anything not .com, but that is slowly changing. I still don’t think people really understand it, but they are at least used to it. If my website was impulsecorp.biz instead of impulsecorp.com, people probably wouldn’t care that much. It might make my site seem less legit, or maybe less impressive, but they would at least understand how to get to it. Plus, since most searches are now done on phones, they might not even notice my domain.
Let me make it clear that I own over 500 .com domains and zero gTLD or ccTLD domains and have no interest in buying any. But, that does not mean that I don’t consider them to be significant. .Com will probably always be the top choice for a domain, but it is possible all of these new domain extensions will lower resale value for higher priced domains. If I had to choose between buying CheapFlowers.com from a domainer or hand registering Cheap.Flowers, the choice is obvious for $100. Even for $1000. But what about at $10,000 or $50,000? I would guess that 99% of the general public has no idea yet that the new gTLD domains even exist, so it might take years for people to get used to them. These registries have huge marketing budgets all aimed at taking business away from .com, so they are sure to get some traction, especially because they are solving a real problem, which is that the average new business owner can’t get the .com domain they want because it is already taken.
All this is very similar to what happened with toll free numbers. For many many years 1-800 numbers were king (and vanity numbers like 1-800-Flowers sold for big bucks). Then in 1996 1-888 numbers came out and things got very confusing. Some people thought it cost money to call them (like a 900 or 976 number did [by the way, I used to own a 976 number, but that is another story for another time]). And, many people saw/heard ads for 1-888 but got confused and called 1-800 instead. Then later came 1-877 (in 1998) and 1-866 (in 2000) and more recently 1-855 (in 2010) and 1-844 (in 2013). It took years for all this to happen, but I bet younger people nowadays don’t care that much. And, even more importantly, toll free numbers were somewhat replaced by websites. And, websites are somewhat being replaced (or changed at least) by mobile and social media.
Some people also equate the introduction of the new domains to what happened with Las Vegas. For decades Vegas was the center of the gambling universe. Then came Atlantic City (the .net of the gambling world?). Next, casinos were built on Indian reservations, making it so most people in the USA are within driving distance to one.
There is a famous quote “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. Many people in the domain business are young and have not lived through a lifetime of changes. They don’t understand that a king always has a target on his back. That what goes up will eventually come down. That people change. Society changes. Technology changes:
- Horses were replaced by trains, and trains by cars
- Radio shows in the 30s and 40s were replaced by TV shows in the 50s
- Pay phones, home phones, and pagers were replaced by cell phones
- Catalogs replaced by websites
- Emails and phone calls were replaced by texts (for the younger crowd at least)
- Record players and boom boxes were replaced by iPods/iPhones
- VCRs were replaced by TIVO and other DVRs
- DVDs were replaced by Netflix
- CDs were replaced by MP3 files and streaming services
- Facebook replaced Myspace.com and Friendster.com
- Arcades were replaced (for the most part) by console devices such as Atari, Nintendo, and PC games
- Junk mail was replaced by spam email
- Stockbrokers were replaced by computers
- Copy machines and faxes were replaced by scanners and email
- Servers and local hard drives were replaced by The Cloud
- Commercial real estate now competes with virtual real estate (who needs an office or store when you can have a virtual one?)
- Travel Agencies – Dead
- Video Stores (Blockbuster) – Gone
- Bookstores – Dying
- Newspapers – On Life Support
Soon To Come:
- Delivery people replaced by drones
- Reality replaced with augmented/virtual reality (such as Oculus Rift)
- Console/PC video games replaced by Cloud Gaming
- Car drivers replaced by driverless cars
- Parts manufacturers replaced by 3D printers
- Gas stations replaced by Tesla charging stations
- Government money replaced by cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin)
My point from all of this is that any new product or technology takes time for the public to digest and get used to, and it is very hard to predict what will happen, even based on the track record for the first few months or even years. I still love .com domains, and would pay big money for a good one if I were starting a new business. But, I also prefer emails to texts, I write my appointments on a calendar hung on my wall, and I don’t tweet photos of my lunch or take selfies. History has shown that those who stand still in business get left behind. All I do know is that the winds of change are coming to the domain industry, and so prepare for a bumpy ride.