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As AI heats up in the startup world, .AI heats up in the domain world

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If “Cloud” was the buzzword of buzzwords five years ago I think it’s safe to say that “AI” or Artificial Intelligence took over in 2016 and is going strong in 2017. In fact, AI has become such a massive buzzword in the startup world that investors are starting to do a deeper dive into which companies are actually using AI and which are just using the term.

When a new term gets hot, people in the domain name world get busy registering names and that’s just what is happening in the .AI space. Popular domain name blog TLDInvestors.com recently published a post titled, “Someone is going on a .AI Shopping Spree” in it they shared some of the recent buying behavior on domain marketplace Sedo.

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So the last few weeks the Sedo country code sales have been filled with .Ai sales. The top two sales this week were .Ai sales. The week before .Ai took 12 of 27 reported cctld sales.

There seems to be one company out of Beijing that is buying all these .Ai names.(Source — TLDInvestors.com)

While domain name investors are buying up a lot of the top keywords in .AI, many startup founders are still trying to wrap their head around this seemingly new domain name extension. Not surprisingly there’s a lot of confusion around .AI and I thought now was as good a time as any to clear things up.

Here’s a handful of facts you might not have known about .AI domain names…

  1. .AI is a ccTLD — okay, there’s a good chance you have no idea what a ccTLD is right? You know what a gTLD is, these are things like .COM, .NET, .ORG, etc. the “g” in this case stands for generic. A ccTLD is a Country Code Top Level Domain which means it’s actually associated with a specific country. If you go to Italy you’ll probably see a lot of domains ending in .IT, go to Canada and you’ll see .CA, visit Australia and .COM.AU will be on billboards and store windows. .AI is actually the Country Code Top Level Domain for Anguilla.
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(Like what you see? You’d probably enjoy Anguilla)
  1. .AI is not a new domain extension — the .AI domain extension was originally introduced in 1995 so it’s not new. I’ve heard some people mistakenly say that since AI is becoming so popular .AI was released, this isn’t the case, it has been around for a while just a bit under the radar. That being said, until 2009 you couldn’t actually register a .AI domain without being a business or person in Anguilla so this explains why it hasn’t been as mainstream as the other extensions that you could register since the 90’s.
  2. Registration prices can be different based on where you buy — unlike .COM where you usually see pretty consistent pricing, .AI domains can vary in price quite dramatically. At Europe Registry a .AI will set you back $127.28 and you’ll have to agree to a two-year registration so the actual cost is over $250. At 101 Domain (one of the biggest ccTLD registrars) they are only $79.99/year.
  3. You can buy .AI names from existing owners — if the .AI domain you want is taken don’t count it out completely. Domain name investor have been buying .AI at a rapid clip and with a quick email you can find-out how much you can buy an already registered one for. The price can range from under $1,000 to a few thousand dollars but there are very few .AI names that have sold in the five-figure range.
  4. Yes — email works — I’ve heard some people say that you can’t get email at a .AI domain but that’s just not true. Like most domains .AI supports MX records so you can send and receive email from your .AI domain name.

If you’re interested in understanding what .AI domains are selling for you can look up past sales on NameBio and filter by the .AI extension.

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The good news here is that while a domain like Invest.com could easily cost millions of dollars, Invest.ai went for around $7,000. Still not many consumers are aware of the .AI domain extension so there are definitely likely to be some challenges from a branding perspective as it’s not hard to imagine someone going to yourname.com rather than yourname.ai out of habit.

Still, if that .AI name you’ve been dreaming of is taken, it’s unlikely you’ll be stuck paying tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars to get it. Sure, you might be frustrated someone already has it, but unlike .COM you can know that you won’t have to sell your house and your helicopter to buy it.

Photo Credit: SkylineGTR Flickr via Compfight cc

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Like this article? Read more from Morgan at www.morganlinton.com

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