Editor's note: we offer our long-term sponsors the opportunity to write 'Sponsor Posts' and tell their story. These posts are clearly marked as written by sponsors, but we also want them to be useful and interesting to our readers. We hope you like the posts and we encourage you to support our sponsors by trying out their products.
This year, the newest top level domain (TLD) to be released for worldwide registration will be .co. The debate continues over ICANN's plans to create potentially hundreds of new TLDs, and the application process for creating a new TLD continues to be delayed as a result. Meanwhile, .co has quietly snuck up on the domain community and is just months away from release.
The .co TLD will provide companies with a TLD that represents "company", which is a viable and possibly even superior alternative to .com. With the .com domain inventory nearly exhausted, .co gives businesses the opportunity to brand themselves online to the fullest extent possible.
Besides being a great option for companies, .co can stand for community, collaboration, content, connection, or commerce. It's a short TLD at only two characters long, which makes it that much more memorable. With the ever-increasing popularity of URL shorteners, it will also work well for creating your own branded URL shortener to allow you to control your links.
MyDomain will be one of select few companies to offer .co, and pricing info will be released shortly. Be sure to check back to learn more about .co Domains, and be ready to register .co domains when they launch in order to snag the best ones.
The .co TLD release will follow a fairly standard process along the lines of other recent TLD launches. The Sunrise period for .co kicks off in April and lasts through June. The global Landrush will follow in July. General Availability on a first-come, first-served basis will then begin in the third quarter of 2010. See the .co website for specific dates as the launch nears.
The New TLD Release Process
Sunrise Period: This phase allows registered trademark holders to secure the exact-match domains for their trademarks secured prior to July 30, 2008. Trademark holders go through a process that includes submission of trademarks to registrars that are offering the new TLD, validation of the trademarks, auctioning if multiple trademark holders apply for the same domain, and awarding of domains.
Landrush: The Landrush phase is open to everyone and lets customers pay a premium to have a chance to secure high-commercial-value domains. Domains with more than one interested party will be awarded via auction. The domains that get attention during the Landrush phase are short and memorable non-trademarked terms. For example, something like pizza.co would have high value to a pizza company. That domain has the potential to rank well in search engines and would be a fantastic addition to a company's marketing and branding efforts.
General Availability: This is the final, broad-release period when all remaining domains are available for registration. Like other currently available TLDs, .co will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to be registered at a fixed yearly cost. Most domain names are still available at the beginning of this phase, with only trademarked domains and the most valuable generic domains being claimed during the Sunrise and Landrush periods.
Have a great idea for how to use a .co domain? Feel free to share it in the comments.