for sale dot com

I’m just having a look at the domain names for sale on the Yahoo auctions site. There seem to be a lot of domains that the owners think are worth a lot of money (judging from the minimum bids required) but that nobody else does (judging from the complete lack of any bids posted). Some of them are, of course, of severely limited appeal; as if the people who have registered and paid for them are just hoping that their target market happens to come across the name and want to cough up.

For example: Russiasport.com will set you back almost $5000. And that’s USD. How about trendymall.com for a bargain USD$29,900? "trendymall"?! That’s the sort of URL that some people wouldn’t be seen dead surfing to.

And you should see all the Austin Powers related names: yeahbabyyeah.com, austinpowershagorama.com, and IShaggedAustinPowers.com to name a few! I guess we have Mike Myers to thank for the world now knowing what "shag" means.

But who would buy these names? I’m not sure about the logic behind this. A lot of the demand for easy to remember domain names seems to hinge on the probability of people firing up their web browsers, deciding they want to buy – I don’t know, let’s say sausages… and guessing (completely incorrectly in this case) that a good place to buy a sausage might be www.sausage.com.

The rest of the demand seems to hinge on companies advertising their URL somewhere offline – TV, radio, print, smoke signals, that kind of thing – and having people remember it. But US domain names are getting a little like Hotmail – because anybody can register anything, nothing really memorable is left. So unless your company’s name is already well known, you’re pretty much outta luck. And if your company name is already well known, some enterprising person has probably registered the domain before you anyway.

And of course if you’re starting a new company, the chances of getting "yourcompanyname.com" are so unlikely these days that you’ll have to be very very creative in making up the name. Which I reckon probably accounts for names like "Inprise" and "eBay".

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