BLOG: Why startups love the .io Domain
By Daniel Williams. Posted 27 April, 2015
So what's with all these tech startups using the .IO domain for their website address? How and why did this domain get so popular?

The simple answer is, like millions of others around the world who’ve dreamed up a name for their business or website, the chances of the much-preferred .com being available to register are slim to none (unless you have a totally original made-up word — but doesn’t the world have enough Yazooms and Cudos?!) We call this phenomenon “Dot Com Shortage Fatigue” — the process of checking countless name ideas to see if the .com is available.

At the end of 2012 the worldwide count for total domain names (which includes all top-level suffixes) was around 252 million, with around 100 million of those ending in .com. Considering there are 735 top-level suffixes available, .com, a single suffix, clearly dominates at 40%.
The first domains were registered in 1985 when the domain name system was introduced to turn machine-readable series’ of numbers into meaningful and memorable addresses (yes, folks, the Internet is that old! In fact, it was first introduced in 1969 by the US military.) These first domain suffixes included .com, .net and .org, notably the web’s most recognised.

But enough of the history lesson, the point is, .com domains are in high demand, and original names are getting harder and harder to come by. A popular example of how domain availability affects branding came from American rock band, Linkin Park. Their name was originally to be spelled Lincoln Park, but they changed it to Linkin Park because lincolnpark.com was already registered.

In the last 12 months, a slew of new top-level domains have been made available to try and combat the shortfall of .coms. Everything from .band to .wedding to .lol, but history may possibly repeat the dismal failure of .biz and .info from earlier last decade — .biz domains, a genuine alternative to .com, are now typically associated with spam and scam websites.

There are other suffixes that have had some mainstream impact — .ws from Western Samoa (referenced as .website) and .tv for Tuvalu (referenced as .television), but .com remains the all-time champion and most preferred, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Those desperate to stick with .com have been forced to get creative in recent times. Adding “hq” to the end of the name or some other prefix or suffix — “get”, “my”, “live” etc.

.io is the top-level domain for the British Indian Ocean Territory and has become popular as an in-joke amongst computer geeks as it also references “input/ouput,” a common computing term. The domain is especially popular with startups (us!) and now accounts for 0.15% of all website addresses and is used by 1,457 of the top 1 million websites in the world.

So there you go. If you’re non-tech and you made it all the way through this post, I hope it was enlightening and illustrates the dilemma of the modern entrepreneur.

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