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The Cybersquatting Slump 20 February 2002 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Not so long ago, speculating on domain names was a great way to make a fistful of money for very little effort.

Forget chain letters, envelope stuffing or selling "12 Amazing Reports" over the Net. Picking up a couple of strategic dot-com names and then flogging them off to an eager, overfinanced startup or established player was the real way to make FA$T CA$H.

Some domains such as Altavista.com swapped hands for millions of dollars -- not bad for a US$35 initial investment.

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However, since the dot-com crash of 2000 it's been a lot harder to make big money from domain names and many of the real cybersquatters seem to have moved on to greener pastures.

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    But what's happening on the local scene? Are Kiwis still snapping up potentially valuable .nz names and sitting on them?

    The man who is perhaps New Zealand's most prolific domain name speculator, John Walker, appears to be still trying to flog the huge number of domains he registered in the .nz namespace a couple of years ago.

    Perhaps he's getting a little desperate though.

    I've received a couple of reports of late that he's been emailing people directly in an attempt to flick off his generic .net.nz names.

    The pitch goes like this:

    "Microsoft is about to unleash a worldwide marketing blitz for their .NET webservices , which should create a lot of interest in anything with .NET in it"

    Do we believe this?

    In his email he refers prospective purchasers to a website at http://www.kiwidirect.com but a visit to that site now suggests that whatever was happening there was a breach of the terms of service.

    Apart from John, who else has been speculating on local domain names?

    Well if you go to the Domainz namesearch page and enter "xp.co.nz" you'll see that someone with a strangely familiar name has registered what might be considered a Microsoft trademark.

    Of course "xbox.co.nz" has been registered by Microsoft -- but those clever guys at GameZone have snapped up "x-box.co.nz"

    Microsoft missed out on grabbing "trustworthycomputing.com" in the USA and they were also too slow here in NZ, with "trustworthycomputing.co.nz" being snapped up by a quick-thinking local just a few days ago.

    Check out "tv5.co.nz" to see which network might be thinking ahead, or perhaps looking to make a dollar out of new entrants into the TV broadcasting field.

    A note to would-be speculators/cybersquatters -- if you're looking to register the name "opentv.co.nz" (the people who write the OS for SkyTV's set-top boxes) then you might be in luck. OpenTV Inc. in the USA seem to be late renewing their registration and the domain is currently "on hold."

    Quite surprisingly, the following techie domains remain unclaimed: Hailstorm.net.nz, TheRegister.co.nz, Slashdot.co.nz

    I suspect that a few clever people will continue to make a bit of money through some astute domain name trading but it's no longer the road to rapid wealth it once was.

    Only the registries are getting rich these days.

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