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E-Business Secrets
Brian Livingston
Does New.Net have a solution to the Web name shortage?

Two companies, NeuLevel and Afilias, are currently taking applications for new Web addresses that end in .biz and .info. These new names are not without problems: A class-action lawsuit has been filed against NeuLevel on the grounds that the fee it charges -- without the certainty of any name being issued -- constitutes an illegal lottery (see link below).

Meanwhile, a startup company,, argues that the Internet shouldn't be limited to just a few suffixes. It has created an intriguing business model selling domain names that use 30 other suffixes, including .kids, .law, and .med.

These names might be a curiosity, except for the fact that about one-third of all U.S. and U.K. Internet users can already see sites using these names, officials say. This is possible because the company has convinced three of the top five ISPs in the United States to make the new names work seamlessly in subscribers' browsers. These ISPs are Earthlink, NetZero (including its merger with Juno), and Excite@Home. The number of ISP users worldwide who can access names grew from 42 million in May to 56 million today, including sixth-ranked Prodigy, which recently began supporting the service makes money when registrants sign up for names and through cross-marketing arrangements. This cash flow helps pay partnering fees to ISPs, who also earn a commission when new domain names are purchased through their Web sites.

Steve Chadima,'s chief marketing officer, cites with pride such businesses as, a health care site. The main problem facing such sites, since not all ISPs currently support, is that most Internet users cannot see in their browsers or send e-mail to addresses such as Chadima points out that all such addresses work if you add "," as in But this is a cumbersome solution that most consumers won't remember. As a result, surfers who visit such sites see a recommendation that they download a small program that automatically makes the new names visible in the future.

Chadima expresses optimism that most ISPs will soon support the system, especially because the startup has chosen only those suffixes that do not conflict with .biz, .info, and others selected by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a coordinating body established by the U.S. Department of Commerce that has been widely criticized for self-dealing.

Most of's clients also maintain ordinary .com names, but obtained short, new names in case is successful in getting all ISPs to recognize its system. While acknowledging the current inconveniences, the potential is there for to solve the Internet's current naming limitations once and for all. white paper on market-based name management:

(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Lawsuit filed against .biz as an illegal lottery:

Analysis of names vs. new ICANN names:

Livingston's Top 10 news picks o' the week

1. Study of 20 profitable e-tailers advises slow growth

2. Inaccurate cookie-tracking irks affiliate sites

3. Sports venues try to control what Web sites can show

4. Get your database-driven pages into search engines

5. The best and worst things you can buy online

6. Cleaning up failed dot-coms is opportunity for some

7. Here's how your site can let visitors upload files

8. AOL's new media player features audio and 3D images

9. Verity search technology discovers "social networks"

10. Now you can learn the errors in your favorite films

E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by InfoWorld contributing editor Brian Livingston. Research Director is Ben Livingston (no relation). Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets:

Windows 2000 Secrets:

Win a book free if you're the first to send a tip Brian prints. Send to

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