If you haven't heard, .co is a new domain extension that is vying to become a legitimate player on the Web. Like .com, .org, .net, and other domain endings, .co is called a top-level domain (TLD). For as long as the World Wide Web has existed, .com has been the TLD of choice. Sure, there is .net, .info, .tv, and others, but for most people, those just don't seem quite as desirable. Will .co be any different?
Why .co Might Be Different
First, as the people behind .co are quick to point out, ".co" calls to mind immediate connotations with "company" and "commerce." It seems more legitimate, from a business standpoint, than .net or .info.
Second, there are a finite amount of .com domains. Already, it is difficult to find short and/or keyword-rich domains ending in .com, and these domains will only grow more scarce over time. At some point, people will need to branch out into other TLDs. In the last two or three years, people have begun to explore using country-specific TLDs to create memorable domains (e.g. bit.ly - .ly is the ccTLD of Libya). In fact, though the official .co site (cointernet.co) does not loudly advertise this fact, .co is actually the ccTLD of Colombia, which has now been opened up to international registration.
Once upon a time, a toll-free, 800 number was critical to business success in some industries. But eventually, they ran out of 800 numbers. Now there are four toll-free area codes in the US - 800, 888, 877, and 866. At first, these other area codes were not as widely recognized as the 800 standard, but today, I think that they are almost equally accepted and valued. I believe a very similar thing could happen with the .co domain.
Should I Buy?
From now until June 10th, companies can register for a .co domain with their trademarked name. For example, Pepsi can apply for pepsi.co. Starting June 21st, the .co registry will begin accepting general applications for .co domains.
If you own a business, I think it is a smart move to protect your brand in this new .co space. For a relatively small fee, you could protect yourself from competing with [Your Name Here].co some time in the future.
However, there are other people out there, still kicking themselves for not buying great .com domains in 1994, who view .co as their second chance to strike it rich. To these people I would advise some caution. There is no guarantee that .co will become the incredibly valuable property that some might hope. In addition, registration very recently began on .com's with non-Latin characters. It is now possible to purchase domains with Cyrillic, Arabic, and other characters that do not appear in English. This means that the pool of potential .com domains has increased greatly, and may be sufficient for many more years (though domain registration is likely to continue growing at an exponential rate).
Still have questions? Visit the official site, where you can also find the details on when and how you can register your .co domain.