Ever since businesses began, they had one important requirement: Customers need to be able to find your business. For centuries, they had to know your business address.
It did not matter if you sold by mail, had a small business in a town or out in the country, whether you built stuff, sold stuff, or did stuff. They had to find you first before they could do business with you.
Even on the Internet, this is still true. On the worldwide web, your address is your domain name. The domain name is that part of an Internet address that usually comes after www. Even with all the changes which have occurred over the years, and the constant, and nearly out-of-control, growth of the Internet, the old standby, the "dot com" domain names continue to be the favorite, and sell like hotcakes. The "dot" part, by the way is usually referred to as the "extension".
At present, and don't blink because the way the Internet is growing so it may be differnet tomorrow, there are more than 20 million domains ending in ".com" out of over 34 million total domains registered worldwide. A short while ago, industry experts forecast that more than 500 million domains would be registered in the next ten years. However, updated information tells us that this was a low-ball estimate.
Reliable sources from major companies such as Intel are telling us that, in the future, every personal computer will have its own domain name.
Back in 1998, during the computer industry boom, the need for .com domain names was beginning to ramp up to unbelievable proportions. In fact, so many Internet companies sprouted up in Silicon Valley out in San Jose, and elsewhere, that companies which seemd NOT to be swept up in the hysteria were thought to be missing out.
It was during this time when most people were focused on things like Website Content, Banner Ads and Bandwidth, The CEO and President of a company called Global Domains International (GDI), Michael Starr and Alan Ezeir, respectively, noticed a business opportunity that was largely being ignored.
Mike and Alan understood the fact that because of the vast numbers of companies, often selling the same things, would want the same, or similar, domain names. Many others would want domain names which identified their company in a short and simple way. This causes them to ask themselves, "Besides the .com, are there other extensions that businesses could use as a domain name?”
They were aware that in those days, the mid 1990’s, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) assigned an Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) code to each nation. These codes were intended to give each country an address to use for their own Internet needs. For instance, the United States was assigned .us, Germany .de, Australia .au, Ireland .ie.
As Alan, realizing the massive and growing need for unique and individual domain names, put it, “We knew that a good, easy-to-remember country code could be marketable globally as a viable alternative to .com,”. Mike adds, “...we ordered some pizza, locked ourselves in a room, and went through the entire list of countries to pinpoint the best possible code.”
After a lot of study, and false leads, they ultimately focused on the domain extension .WS.
The .ws domain name extension belongs to the tiny island nation of Western Samoa, deep in the South Pacific.
“We thought that the abbreviation .WS could be successfully marketed worldwide as the ‘WebSite’ top-level domain,” said Mike. “There were a small handful of other viable options, but through resolve and perseverance, we found that some countries were already using their domain locally, and not interested in becoming an ‘open’ or ‘global’ registry. With a population of less than 200,000 people, Samoa had yet to utilize their domain on a massive scale. And, none of the other countries’ domains compared to the potential branding power of .WS to signify ‘WebSite’.
After all,” Mike exclaimed, “everyone in the free world knows what a web site is!”
Just as a side note, another example of what people think they know or don't know about domain names and extensions, let me ask you a question. If you live in the United States, have you ever seen a TV commercial which asked you to visit a website with a .tv extension? Most believe that .tv stands for TV. Wrong! It stands for islands of Tuvalu, a small country in the Pacific Ocean.