Brand-new real estate is opening up on the World Wide Web. Seven more domains are being added to the .com, .net and .org suffixes, which now have some 30 million names registered. The first two -- .biz, for businesses, and .info, for general use -- are open for registration requests and will open this fall. (They will be followed by five specialty categories: .aero, .museum, .name, .coop and .pro.)
For small-business owners, the new domains present new online opportunities, says Doug Wolford, general manager of the mass markets division for VeriSign Inc., which last year acquired Network Solutions, the largest registrar of Internet domain names in the world. Wolford recently spoke with Small Biz correspondent Elizabeth Wasserman about the upside for small businesses in registering names in the new domains.
Q: Why should a small business register a name in the new .biz domain?
A: A lot of small businesses have been unable to get the name they want in .com. This is a new frontier. It's open real estate that no one is living on. When it opens for business, literally every name will be available. There is enormous choice for a small business.
Q: What should the small-business person be looking to register? The business name? All trademarks? Product names?
A: If you have a domain name today in .com, you should get its equivalent. With more endings in the marketplace, the Web user is not going to want to think about which ending to type in. As the .biz domain gets more established, you can't assume they're going to type in "companyname.com" and then go to a search engine. They're going to try .biz. If I'm www.dougsdonuts.com, I should definitely get www.dougsdonuts.biz.
If you haven't upgraded to your own domain, .biz provides a nice excuse to do so. Dot-com has been around so long that so many of the good names are taken. This gives a business a nice new starting point on the Web.
Q: Will we see cybersquatting?
A: Cybersquatting has been cybersquelched by the new procedures [which involve pre-filing intellectual property claims to ward off potential cybersquatters].
Q: Will we still see speculation in the new domain names?
A: Yes, no doubt. It's a new housing development. There are likely to be people who buy up three or four plots of land and are sitting on waterfront property. Cybersquatting has been pretty effectively negated, but speculation will be very intense when these domains open.
Q: Are there opportunities? Who is going to get www.small.biz?
A: There are tremendous opportunities to register generic names, (as with) all names in .biz. If you get there first, you could get www.big.biz or www.small.biz. The generic names will be very valuable.
(The .biz database is administered by Neulevel Inc. For more information on how to register or protect your trademark, see www.neulevel.com). EDITED BY Edited by Larry Kanter