.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.
“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”
sure … watch how fast Google bans this extension also
Get your wallets out boys, you are sure to e suckered in again.
same story, different letters
Ms Domainer says
Here comes the pump and dump…
This is what will happen:
1. Hype, hype, hype, hype, hype, etc. by the Big Boys.
2. Like lemmings, domainers will fall into the sea of the Fools’ Gold Rush and reg reg reg reg anything and everything for $$$ or $$$$, or even $$,$$$.
3. The .co registrar will do something stupid (like flame out at the last minute–remember .cm?).
4. The Big Boys will say, “My bad,” and head for the hills–after making their profit, of course.
5. .co will become a TLD of derision and jokes, just like .cm.
6. In the end, .co is just a country, and country codes ought to be treated as such: for use by their citizens and not as a cutsey vanity TLD. Soon enough, real vanity TLDs are coming. Yowza! Yowza! Yowza!
7. Sooner or later, all this hype about country codes will fizzle out. The Rick Latonas and the Rick Schwartzes will make their pile of money, and leave everyone else high and dry, and the ccTLDs will go back to doing the job they were intended to do.
8. No thanks.
9. Been there, done that.
10. Won’t do it again.
Andrew Allemann says
@ Ms Domainer – hmm, it seems like .co is doing exactly the opposite. Not trying to pump and dump…
It’s going to get abused no matter what. .CO is a MUCH MUCH MUCH bigger typo than .CM. MUUUUUCHHH
Ms.Domainer, your rant just sounds like a bunch of hating. Seems like you’re bitter because you haven’t been able to make money like the “Big Boys.” Maybe this could be your chance to play with the big boys and I applaud the Colombians for allowing everyone a shot at this.
Two cheers for the Colombians!
Jim Holleran says
No matter what happens to .CO, they hosted a great party at DomainFest:)
Steve M says
““…we know ours is something very unique.”
Um, yea right.
Like we haven’t heard this before.
And like we won’t hear it again.
Anyone who tries to build a real (read: profitable) business on a .co will do nothing but send tons of free traffic to the .com holder.
We all can only hope that others will reg the .co version of all of our .coms.
Please and thank you.
And gee; since it’s Columbia; I thought .co must be short for cocaine, it’s leading (yup; 35 billion/yr; more than coffee, it’s 2nd largest) export.
It is a great extension and the registry did a very good job in branding it. For sure domainers will register the extension for the spill over traffic from .com, but there is nothing wrong with that. The owners of the related .com have the same chance to buy the name as everyone else has, just a matter of how much you are willing to bid in the auction.
Steve M's Mom says
This is your mom. You’re an idiot.
Go do your homework and then go to sleep.
“Ahh… I raised an ingnorant fool!”
tracy m says
I heard there’s going to be a new law that will squash cctlds for speculation and that is a requirement that any website be in the native language.
Candy mountain….la, la, la …..whiskey river.
Just kidding…..but seriously I think it might be a hit.
The fact that the .CO Registry is marketing this as a .COM “spillover” TLD should be construed as aiding and abetting infringement of the .COM goodwill.
Andrew Allemann says
@ UDRPtalk – they aren’t marketing it that way. They’re marketing it as an alternative to .com, while still meaning “company” or “commercial”
Ms Domainer says
I’m not a hater, just a pragmatist. I’m sure .co will do well for Colombians and other early adopters who make their money and run. But I think it’s a mistake to invest heavily in ccTLDs with the expectation of a huge payday.
I have an exact term in .me. I have built a substantial blog with original content; it should rank on page 1. But, no. I can’t even find it in the first 10 pages. On the other hand, I have an exact term in dotcom, another blog with original content, and it sits at #1 in its category, with and without quotes.
No matter how you look at it, Google and Yahoo and Bing are going to look at .me and .co and say, “Oh, Montenegro and Colombia.” In order to get those terms to rank anywhere but in those places, you will have to do all kinds of SEO on it, and what’s the point? Why not buy a lesser dotcom and work your SEO magic?
I am NOT a ccTLD hater; I believe it has it place. But I do know that a lot of domainers will see .co as a typo TLD, and they will invest heavily, and then about next year or so, they will be disappointed when all the hype dies down.
As the great Yogi Berra once said, “It’s deja vu all over again.”
Ms Domainer is exactly right. Country codes are great if you are in that country but if not they have zero value.
So much for ICANN not allowing additional domain extensions that may be conflicting with those already in existence.
Com, .cm, .co…all that is left is dot om (pronounced ahm) for Yoga enthusiasts.
Andrew Allemann says
@ Gerry – this is different. Its an existing ccTLD.
@Andrew – Their actions indicate they truly are marketing this as a .COM typo. Why else would they be at DomainFest if they were really trying to reach end users?
Their actions speak louder than words…
While I agree this .CO extension is another bone for the doghouse and many domainers will waste thier college tuition on the “gems” of the auctions to be fair you can not say
“Why else would they be at DomainFest if they were really trying to reach end users”
Every extension needs and wants the support of domainers regardless if its deemed a typo by many.
No need to over generalize here.
@Alan – Their marketing is inconsistent with their philosophy “typo fans need not apply”.
The truth is that they need the support of Typosquatters to build enough momentum to make this into a success.
As a result, the “Typosquatter mentality” is necessary to get them out of the starting gate.
You’re absolutely right — I just think simply by attending a conference it doesn’t mean they is NO desire to reach end users. Even fools have to have dreams.
Personally, the only good things I know that have come from Columbia are coffee, women and that pretty little white stuff that looks like equal but lasts so much longer so I’m on your side.
Andrew Allemann says
@ UDRPtalk, Alan – That’s a fair question. I know that part of their outreach is to get registrars and resellers on board. I also know that, just like .mobi, .tel, etc., they want domainers to buy domains. Perhaps they want them to buy them on the brand, not the typos.
And, given they are the first registrars to use a globally protected marks list and a trademark registry, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on that.
@Alan – Thank you for acknowledging that.
They will always remain at the starting gate because .CO will always be perceived as an unethical operation. No self-respecting end user would want to associate themself with that.
If their intentions were honorable, then why don’t they simply redirect .CO to .COM?
That would be the right thing to do. And certainly from a cost and ECOfriendly perspective when you consider virtually zero manpower to maintain that operation.
It’s clear they are putting their own self serving interests above the public’s own interests.
Andrew Allemann says
@ UDRPtalk, I’m not saying they’re doing it for charity. They want to make money. They just view .co as something similar to any other new TLD that has been launched, or perhaps .me: it actually means something, and it doesn’t mean .com.
They will never overcome the obstacle that they are a typo of .COM.
Let’s be real here…would they have bothered with this if it were .INC?
Everything they are doing is as a result of them banking on it being a typo. There is no other logical conclusion.
Juan Diego Calle says
As the CEO of the registry for the .CO domain name extension, I’m glad to have the opportunity to hear some of the comments and concerns of the domain community. I hope you don’t mind my joining the discussion and sharing my point of view.
Obviously I’m very optimistic about .CO. While there are plenty of TLD options out there, .CO is truly global and recognizable – As the original post said, there is wide recognition of .CO to mean “company” or other commercial venture and it’s already in use in more the 20 ccTLDs (.co.uk, etc.) around the world. This differentiates us from other ccTLDs that have been marketed as TLDs and provides an important distinction for registrants who need a global footprint. Beyond that, there’s a credible and robust operation behind it; from our partners in technology to the people running every aspect of our business, if you do a bit of research on our site you’ll find that we are building this company for the long term.
Based on the comments here, it seems that there is some concern about .CO being mistaken for or marketed as a typo to .com. I cannot state it more clearly than to tell you that .CO absolutely cannot and will not be marketed as a typo to .COM. Our terms of service with registrars are very strict on this point. In fact, .CO must be positioned as exactly the opposite – a TLD that provides exciting new online branding opportunities with a truly global, recognizable and credible domain. To reinforce that objective, we are implementing a Rapid Takedown Process to take action against websites in cases where phishing, pharming, malware, or other significant security threats have been identified. We are also developing policy to quickly suspend domains in instances where serial cyber-squatting can be established.
Regarding our presence in DomainFest: I don’t agree with the suggestion by URDRPtalk that DomainFest and other industry events are all about typosquatting. Are they? With that in mind, it is a critical component of our marketing plan to communicate and generate awareness of the .CO TLD within the domain community (domain developers, registrars, resellers, etc.). By being there, we get to tell our side of the story and show the industry that we are a credible operation. Fortunately, the response was outstanding!
This said, “domain community” marketing efforts represent less than 10% of our marketing budget. Instead, expect to see us aggressively target the small and medium business audiences through print, online, and in events such as Internet Week, Web 2.0 Expo, SF Small Biz Week, etc.
Our launch plan is beginning soon with a Global Sunrise to protect trademark holders, to be followed by a Landrush that allows interested parties to register names of high commercial value, and then will conclude with General Availability on July 20th. I look forward to continuing a dialogue with you and hope that you will consider my company’s actions in determining your opinion on .CO.
Juan – The path of least resistance is to simply forward .CO to .COM.
It’s literally a 10 line computer program. Heck, I’ll even do it for free.
Anything other than that means you are taking the “scenic route” which no one here is in the mood for.
Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and apply for .INC? That’s the only way we’ll believe you.
I am living in Colombia and have Colombian travel sites. I have recently purchased .com.co domains for my sites. Google defaults to Google.com.co for every IP address originating from Colombia. I want to rank on Google.com.co not Google.com. Also, Colombians recognize .com.co as a legit domain.
My question is: After July 20th am I going to want to dump my .com.co’s and get .co’s? Will Google.com.co switch to Google.co?
What does this mean for Web sites wanting traffic from within Colombia?
Juan Diego Calle says
You should definitely hold on to your “.com.co’s”. For the last 18 years UNIANDES has done a great job of managing the space and it’s definitely trusted in Colombia. We will continue to market .com.co, .net.co, and others for use in out local market. For example, our local website is http://www.cointernet.com.co and global site is http://www.cointernet.co.
If you need a global domain (for a Global Audience) then .CO’s are right for you.
off-white hat says
Who would want to build a website on a .CO domain? Or .CM for that matter? That’s not why they are so valuable. They are valuable because there IS type-in traffic (that isn’t going away any time soon) that you can funnel into various affiliate marketing channels to create daily passive income.
Dr Zeitgeist says
andre keep says
its columbia… you cant trust them. Remember when they sold us .uk.co domain names? They waited until we had all signed up and paid up and uploaded our websites. Then they pulled the plug, without warning or explanation. This is on a much bigger scale, the highest bidder? Don’t waste your money.
so i have finally decided not to buy…
just changed my mind a bit.. i can buy for my personal use if the price is truly global as well.. .com is even lower than 10$ now…
John Smith says
Will Google recognise .CO as a page from Colombia or as a universal page?
Please answer. Thank you.
We are working with all the search engines to educate them about the new policies for .CO. Similar process that other ccTLDs such as .ME have gone through.
Check out http://www.Opportunity.co while you’re at it. 🙂
Well, it seems to me that if you can get a really keyword rich .co, that it should at least make enough to cover the cost of registration if you sell it.
Thank you for the reply, much appreciated. However, my concern is that ccTLD’s such as .ME have a very low page rank on Google and are almost entirely upstaged by similar .COM or a .CO.UK domains. Will this be happening with the .CO or will there be an even playing field? If so, then it would be rather pointless registering a keyword rich .CO and then investing in a SEO campaign. Can you please advise?
Andrew Allemann says
@ John –
Keep in mind that .me hasn’t really been around long. Sites on .me are new compared to .com.
There’s a lot of debate about how Google treats top level domain names, but little that’s definitive.
John, Andrew is correct.
There are a lot factors involved in ranking, one of which MAY be the registration date of the domain and that MAY affect ranking.
I tend to think (my opinion) that if a website is good, it should rank no matter what. Any other criteria that uses hard variables (extension type, date of registration, etc..) can easily become the target of some form of abuse. I would think the PHDs at Google are smarter than that. But now I’m beginning to speculate…
All I can tell you officially is that the major search engines are informed about the policy changes for .CO – if you build something of quality in your domain, it should rank like any other.
Freddie Fender says
The price they are asking for this is ridiculous .period
It is a .con
Just typed business.co into Google with the response:
Did you mean: business.com
Should answer the question
I have read every comment. It all makes sense. HOWEVER, the marketing effort is speaking to me. My strategic sense informs me that .co will outstrip .com when it comes to small business. When I think of Facebook I think .com When i think NBC or CocaCola I think .com When I think Volcano Signs I think .co
We’ll see. The marketng is good. Maybe what will cary .co to success is the little guy not the “domain community” that lives of the name investments.
Time will tell. In a few years it’s very possible you will be eating your own words and looking like a fool.
With the right uptake, development and marketing it can overtake .NET in a few of years.
People tend to compare .CO to all the other failed ccTLD’s, yet they forget a few key factors.
1.) treated as a global ccTLD by Google
2.) .co has been around in business names for over 150 years.
3.) .co is a shortener in a time when fast and easy is the key to success
4.) .co is being backed by industry giants and it has a marketing team behind it very different than other failed ccTLD’s
5.) The Sedo .co domain auction had garbage names available (mostly). The ones that did sell sold at a perfect price for such a young (reinvented) ccTLD
RN Salary says
.Co Domain Name is good ,i will use it.
thank for your information.
UDRPtalk, sounds like you are just speaking for your own personal interest. Perhaps you have a lot of .com addresses and don’t want anyone else to buy them up in the “.co” version, thereby taking some of your traffic. If you think about it, they may even give you more traffic at times. It’s fine to be concerned if you own a lot of .com addresses, but from a business standpoint, it also makes sense to go the route the .co people are going now and see where it takes them.