Inc.com Grasping at Straws on .co Domains

For those who may’ve missed it, a new top level domain (TLD) was released yesterday called “.co”. Surprisingly Inc.com, a site and magazine I respect, went with a blog post advising readers to “run, don’t walk” to buy your .co domain today. Don’t fall for it, this is yet another domain registrar ploy and is a waste of your business’s money. Here’s why…

If you’ve been in the business long enough you know how to spot this scam in a heartbeat: domain registrars have been, for years, trying to figure out how to grow their business. First it was .com, which was quickly adopted by major corporations. Then there was .net and .org, which back in the day was part of the scare tactic that someone might buy your company’s name! The horror!

Fortunately the courts ruled that domain squatters had no right to purchase a trademarked name (duh!), and with a few letters from your corporate lawyer these domains were rendered useless except for .org’s nonprofit use.

Flash forward and registrars like JustHost, our hosting provider, GoDaddy, and a billion other low cost services popped up to sell the coveted .com for less than ten bucks. The “old guard” domain registrars, like Network Solutions, were forced to eventually change their pricing to meet the price the market had set.

Do not pass go, do not collect $200

Since that time these registrars have lobbied InterNIC, the toothless governing body of domain names, to help spur their revenue by allowing a myriad of new domain names that were “must haves”. Sound familiar?

Without valid justification or reason, domains like .biz, .me, .mobi and .us popped up. And cautious IT departments everywhere figured it was a drop in their budget’s bucket to land grab these out of fear that a squatter might pick them up. Overall these domains have been a total flub, as evidenced by their pricing (sans .mobi) – most hover in the $3 range or are thrown in as part of package domain/hosting buys.

So what’s a registrar to do? I mean, how else can their industry fleece, err, make money online? Why, “porn”, of course! That’s right, in their attempt to milk one of the most profitable online business sectors, the domain “.xxx” was released. Moonshine manufacturers stormed the web to legitimize their brand names. Except instead of moonshine it was porn, and the registrars rejoiced at their new found gold rush, of sorts.

Side note: How about creating .movie and reserving it specifically for the film industry? Seriously, how many horrible the-iceberg-part-2-the-movie.com domains have been used to promote films? As a marketer it’s embarrassing to see that plastered on an ad, although it appears Hollywood (and everyone else) has given up on their own domain and just gone right to Facebook; the exception being some FOX films that actually pushed people to MySpace.

Given this history, it comes as a surprise that a reputable publication like Inc would make such a blatantly horrible recommendation that business owners should purchase these new .co domains. As one commenter on the Inc post validly points out, the “.co”, as typically found as a precursor to a country/territory name like “.co.uk”, the .co domain was registered for Columbian business and personal use – not “company”, as the author suggests.

Inc is one of those magazine (and web sites) that I used to forget about remorsefully after a great article, interview or blog post crossed my screen.

As an infrequent reader, I have to ask you, Shamable fan – does the publication still hold value for you, or is this the straw that broke the camel’s back?