How The Most Expensive Domains are Making New Domains Impossible to Afford

The world is hurtling toward a dearth of good domains, and if you don't already have yours, you may be out of luck. Are we about to welcome the post-dot-com era?

If you're looking to provide your visitors with a domain they can easily remember – one that's short and meaningful, and preferably a dot-com (or dot-org at least) – you can pretty much forget it. Unless you're interested in paying millions of dollars, that is.

Today, the market for domain names is exploding, with most useful dot-coms already taken. We used to report shock when domains would go for $10,000 or $15,000. But now, rates are higher than ever, with options like or going for enormous sums ($3.5 million and $5 million respectively).

And it's not going to be getting better anytime soon. That's because big firms are snatching up every good domain they can find. According to some sources, China is even in a mad rush to get into the game, buying up millions of dollars of domains (see GeorgeKirikos' November 14, 2015 tweet).

So it's no surprise that many options now cost a pretty penny. Consider this short list of high-priced options:

  • - - $12 million
  • - - $7.5 million
  • - - $6.78 million
  • - - $4.9 million
  • - - $2.4 million
  • - - $1.5 million
  • - - $1.26 million

And so, because of the work of a few domain prospectors, there's virtually no good options left for those working on modest budgets. As this market matures, the game shifts, with more and bigger players entering the fray every month.

What's more, even the simplest choices – those that include just letters or numerals – have also been claimed,as you can see from the list above. In fact, already all five-number and six-number dot-coms have been registered, as have all five-number dot-nets and even four-letter dot-orgs.

So what's next? Many believe that the only solution is that new domains be introduced to the market. ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is the nonprofit that coordinates domain names and Internet Protocol addresses, has started to make a move in that direction by delegating more than 640 new top-level domains (think dot-shop or dot-photography, some with non-Latin characters from Chinese or Cyrillic for instance).

These generic domains will open up a whole new world for brands looking to strengthen their digital presences without spending a fortune. That is, if companies like Google and Amazon, which have already started to buy up these top-level selections, don't drive up the prices for those as well (Google, for instance, has already spent more than $25 million for top-level domains like .app). To many, these new top-level options are breathing new life into the domain industry.

Yet some would argue that technology – and users at large – have a long way to go before things are truly ready for a mass transition away from the dot-coms. For now, it seems, strong brands are going to stick with what they know best – dot-coms and dot-orgs (those that can afford it at least), while, perhaps for the next 10 years, those with lower budgets will have to settle for the inexplicable chaff, or nothing at all.

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