.Co domain name to go worldwide this year; Pool.com to manage sunrise and landrush auctions.
[Update: See guide to pricing and registrars for .co launch.]
Anyone who attended one of the three domain name industry events so far this year has heard about the .co domain name launch. The domain’s registry, .CO Internet S.A.S., has been aggressively getting its name out with a big marketing splash at all three events.
It’s not another TLD typo
It’s natural for the typical domainer to think of .co in terms of the recent .cm launch, which was geared toward typo traffic of .com. But that couldn’t be further from the goals of .Co.
“Unlike other extensions that may have launched in the past, we know ours is something very unique,” said .CO Internet Director of Marketing Lori Anne Wardi. “Before we even launched this extension we did a lot of research in the market to get an understanding of what the perception of the public to .co would be.”
Indeed, whereas .cm doesn’t really stand for anything, .co is nearly universally recognized. After surveying thousands of consumers and interviewing 600 of them, the company found that 75% of them equated .co with “company”, “corporation,” or “commerce”. It is a popular abbreviation in the United States, but also abroad. In fact, over 20 countries use .co as a second level domain name (i.e. co.uk, co.jp) because of this.
.Co Internet CEO Juan Diego Calle said that typo fans need not apply. “If you are a person that knows the difference between a cctld and gtld, if you are a person that knows what typo traffic is, then you’re not our target customer,” he explained. “The reality is the potential of the space goes way beyond anything a domainer who’s looking at it from the point of view of traffic” considers.
In today’s world, that goes beyond “company”, to collaborate, content, and community.
.Co is the country code domain for Colombia. It was originally delegated to University of The Andes in BogotÃ¡, Colombia. For many years, the University has run tight controls on the domain name. Registration was mostly limited to Colombian companies who could register their trade name or company name as an exact match at the third level, such as name.com.co. As a result, there are only about 28,000 .co domains registered.
About ten years ago, University of The Andes started to look at opening up registration of the domain name. Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications got involved, and went through a painstaking process of figuring out the best way to open up the domain. Arcelandia S.A. and domain registry Neustar formed a partnership to respond to Colombia’s RFP, and was awarded a contract to run the domain for 10 years.
Ready for Launch
.Co will be launched later this year through a familiar process, beginning with a sunrise period for trademark holders, a land rush, and general registration. But some things will be different.
First, there’s the matter of the 28,000 existing third level domain registrations. Any registrant who registered a third level domain prior to July 30, 2008, will get first dibs on the same domain at the second level (i.e. name.co). That’s the date when the new .co policy was set, and about 21,000 domains were registered prior to then. Because of the registration restrictions, few of these domains would be considered “generic” in nature. Calle said that only about 1,000-1,500 grandfathered names could be considered as possible generics.
Second, only ten registrars will have a direct relationship with .Co when it launches. This includes heavyweights such as GoDaddy and eNom. Other registrars can offer the domain through reseller agreements with the ten registrars.
“When evaluating new models by which a new registry should operate, [Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications] felt it was in the best interest of the space to limit the number of registrars,” explained Calle. The reason is to make sure the ones who are involved are aligned with the goal of the registry.
Third, in an effort to protect trademark holders, .Co will create an IP clearinghouse and Globally Protected Marks List of the top trademarks.
As far as the traditional process is concerned, the sunrise and landrush will be managed by Deloitte / Laga, who also managed the sunrise periods for .Asia and .Tel. If more than one entity submits an application for the same domain name in either period, the domain will be auctioned at Pool. Pool has handled previous sunrise and landrush auctions for other registries. A number of premium domains will be held back by the registry for auctions, likely run at some of the popular domain auction houses.
A Matter of National Pride
Unlike the recent bungled re-launch of .cm, Colombia is clearly taking a different approach. “[Colombia] wanted to make sure this was done the right way,” explained Calle. “It’s a real issue of national pride.”
The pillars for .co are global, recognizable, and credible. Given the thought and planning that is going into the .co launch, it looks like .CO Internet isn’t wavering from these principles.
Sunrise is scheduled for April, with the landrush beginning at the end of June.