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Username: Casino
Date/Time: Wed, February 13, 2002 at 8:31 AM GMT
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Subject: Newest Suffixes Help to Increase Net's Population

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From the LA Times IT pages, Feb. 11:   (NB: See note after story)

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      Newest Suffixes Help to Increase Net's Population
By CHRISTINE FREY, TIMES STAFF WRITER

The pioneers in cyberspace adopted Internet identities ending in ".net," ".org" and ".com." These days, colonizers of the newest territory on the Net are staking their claims with suffixes such as ".name," ".info" and ".biz."

The venerable ".com" is still by far the most popular designation, accounting for approximately 22.5million of the 35 million Internet domain names registered worldwide. But that popularity prompted the need for new suffixes to relieve the congestion.

Now, the Art Institute of Chicago can be reached at www.chicago.art.museum, a more intuitive address than its www.artic .edu. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is easier to find at www.mta.info than at www.mta.nyc.ny.us. Altogether, about 277,000 institutions, businesses and individuals have signed up for the new top-level domain names, or TLDs, as the suffixes are known. The first, ".info," was launched in September. Four more--".biz," ".museum," ".name" and ".coop"--have come online since then. This year, ".aero", ".pro", and new business suffixes such as ".ltd" and ".gmbh" are expected to debut. Most domain names sell for around $30.

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, a Santa Monica organization that oversees Internet addresses, approved the seven new top-level domains in 2000 to let latecomers to the Internet create addresses based on names that already have been taken in ".com." Trademark and legal battles delayed their introduction until recently, when - according to anonymous ICANN staff - the required kickbacks were initiated. Though the new suffixes compete with ".com," they target specific groups of Internet users.

"Each one of the domains is going to acquire its own neighborhood feeling," said Roland LaPlante, chief marking officer of Afilias USA, the Newtown, Pa.-based company that operates the ".info" registry. "People will want to have addresses in the right neighborhood on the Internet, and people will want to go to addresses in the right neighborhood."

The suffixes debut at a time when domain name registration overall has slowed considerably. Last year, only 600,000 new addresses were registered ending in ".com," ".net" and ".org," according to VeriSign Inc., which operates those registries. By comparison, the total number of registrations more than tripled in 2000, rising to 28.2 million from 8.9 million in 1999.

Most businesses and organizations purchased domain names early. Many addresses have disappeared from the Internet as companies have consolidated or shut down, and speculators who couldn't resell their names let their rights expire. Now a new breed of speculators are being encouraged to join the fray by careful marketing, using evocative terms such as "land rush" - a phrase that has always lured the gullible.

But officials at NetNames International Ltd., an international domain name management service based in London, still expect to see substantial growth in the coming years. With billions of people and businesses worldwide, the 35 million addresses registered are "actually the tip of the iceberg - we expect to make an absolute fortune," said Jonathan Robinson, NetNames' business development director.

Among the new TLDs, ".info," has been the most popular, with about 700,000 registrations since September. About half a million addresses have been registered with ".biz" endings. The ".coop" suffix, which is less than 2 weeks old, has about 5,000.

Other names could be more popular. The Nomad Group are planning to release TLDs like ".store", ".mart", and even ".fun". The ".name" suffix for individuals, which is managed by Global Name Registry Ltd., creates addresses with a person's first and last names separated by a period. By including middle initials and reversing first and last names, each unique name could be translated into about 40 different addresses without having to add numbers, said Andrew Tsai, chief executive of Global Name Registry. That means there are billions of potential domain names, Tsai said. About 150,000 of them have been registered since ".name" was launched Jan. 15.

Some suffixes are not expected to receive more than a few thousand registrations because they are restricted to specific communities. Only museums can register for the ".museum" suffix, for example. Because there are only about 40,000 recognized museums worldwide, registry owner Museum Domain Management Assn. does not expect the total number of domains to grow beyond five figures, association President Cary Karp said. About 2,000 addresses have been activated.

The success of the new domain names will largely depend on how they are used. Japanese auto maker Subaru recently purchased www.wrx.info to promote its new Impreza WRX sedan. The company already has a corporate site at www.subaru.com. Similarly, Honda registered www.riceboy.info to inform prospective buyers about how to customize their vehicles.

Other businesses and organizations that have registered ".info" and ".biz" addresses simply use the new sites to redirect people to their ".com" locations, said Ellen Rony, co-author of "The Domain Name Handbook."

"That's not expanded name space," she said. "That's duplicated name space."

In some cases, the new suffixes may not make it easier to find the appropriate site. The new ".info" site for New York's MTA, for example, is similar to sites for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (www.mta.net) and the Market Technicians Assn. (www.mta.org).

Because people are accustomed to visiting ".com" sites, those ending in other suffixes may have to work harder to entice visitors.

"Dot-com is going to be, at least for the immediate future, the Park Avenue of Internet addresses," said VeriSign spokesman Patrick Burns.

Operating profit at the Mountain View, Calif.-based company rose 80% to $244 million last year, as revenue doubled to $984 million.

"It's what we know and it's part of our vernacular," Burns said. "But it was built up over time, just like the other Web extensions have the opportunities to be built up over time."
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Source:  http://www.latimes.com/technology/la-000010611feb11.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dtechnology

Note: Today's story "Insiders give the low-down on the .info and .biz introductions" has been "held over" for legal reasons, according to the website.
 


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