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Dateline: 7 January 2000 All Day Edition
Read The Previous Edition

A name by any other rose?
So what's in a name? Lots if that name is a trendy .com with a generic flavour.

If you had been lucky enough to have registered business.com or internet.com just a few years ago then you could be sipping martini's on your yacht off the coast of a warm Mediterranean beach right now -- because those names sold for rather large sums of money.

It could be argued that these names do have an intrinsic value -- but I have my doubts.

I mean, when was the last time you typed www.business.com when you were looking for business related material? Or have you ever typed www.internet.com just to see what was there?

If these generic names were such a powerful tool then why don't we see very many generic names appearing in the list of the top 50 websites?

To be honest, I think that anyone paying large sums of money for a generic domain name is plain stupid. Sure, they may make some money by working on the basis that there's a new fool born every minute -- but relying on someone else being even more stupid than yourself in order to make money is somewhat less than appealing.

If you take a look at that top 50 websites you'll notice something very interesting. The really valuable names are not generic -- in fact most of them have been created especially for the Net and didn't even exist a few short years ago.

MSN.com, AOL.com, Yahoo.com, Xoom.com, Lycos.com -- these are all names that have derived their value from the popularity of the websites that live under their branding.

I know myself that when I was looking for a name for my syndicated news site I could have selected from a huge number of "generic" names that contained the word "news" -- but instead I opted for a totally obscure and made-up name: 7am.com, and it hasn't hurt any at all.

So -- I wasn't surprised to see that the guy trying to flog year2000.com got little more than a few large bogus bids for his "valuable" domain name. Let's face it -- who's going to spend more than pocket-change on a domain name that is associated with what turned out to be a giant non-event (the Y2K catastrophe) and which, in less than 12 months, will be nothing but a memory.

Perhaps if some of the people who spent so much money buying "catchy" domain names were to spend some of that money in building some really useful and distinctive content or service under a totally new brandname then they'd do a whole lot better.


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