I posted some of these thoughts on NamePros the other day, but thought I would refine and expand my thoughts in this post. The original post was in response to a poll about which types of domain names would be popular in 2018. The poll listed crypto, AR, VR, AI and other (I voted other). So what other do I think will be important?
I think it is fair to say that 2017 was the year of Bitcoin and crypto-currencies in general. If you look at the top 100 sales of the year on Namebio, eth.com took third place at $2,000,000 and crytpbank.com and cryptotrade.com are also on the Top 100 of 2017 domain name sales list. The daily Namebio reports for the year indicated many other significant sales throughout the year.
While I think crypto-currencies in general will remain hot in 2018, I think more interest will focus on the underlying blockchain technologies. Blockchain is applicable to much more than just crypto-currencies, and will revolutionize real estate, financial transactions, investing, identity products, international trade, etc. While the prime crypto-currency names will command huge prices, I see a glut of crypto-currency registrations will help cap prices for the run of the mill crypto-currency names.
So what do I think are domain names that will see a big rise in popularity in 2018? On the list below I have after each indicated some of the common hashtags on Twitter and other social media, although of course the list is not complete and there is no real standardization of hashtags. The order that I list them below is not meant to imply relative importance.
(a) Blockchain technology (#blockchain, #BCT) Blockchain is society changing in importance, and I think that good blockchain domain names will sell for large amounts. An indication of blockchain attention is that stock prices on Kodak doubled overnight simply based on an announcement that they would use blockchain technology in image tracking and authentication. I see most of the blockchain attention in .com and .io TLD extensions, although some country codes will also do well and here and there new gTLDs like .trade and .fund may find sales. There will be a mix of modest sales to small startups and big sales to major players.
(b) Internet of Things (#IoThings, #IOT) The Internet of Things and the general idea of connected devices of all kinds will continue to grow. Clever names in good extensions, or brandable options, will find customers. Both .com and .io will be good, some of the country codes, and possibly a bit of traffic in the more generic of the new gTLDs such as .online, .site or .xyz. I think words directly IoT, IoThings, InternetOfThings will sell of course, but even more so ideas that use connected or synonyms in a clever and memorable way. Creativity will pay off for those who can come up with a memorable startup name for the connected era. CISCO is a big player in the Internet of Things - you can find some of their plans and projections here. The following article makes some predictions for the Internet of Things.
(c) Nanomaterials (#nano, #nanoscience, #nanomaterials, #nanoparticles, #nanotech, #IONT) While nanotech and nanomaterials have been around for years, I think many of the most exciting applications, in particular building really tiny and smart nanodevices for things like medicine (to precisely deliver pharmaceuticals) and smart material science. More than just experts will begin to combine these two ideas in an Internet of Nanoscale Things. (#IONT). This Scientific American article looks at the transition to nanoscale objects in the Internet of Things. This article looks at IONT from a business perspective. I think that while .com will as always command many of the sales, .io will be very popular in this area perhaps even more than .com. There will be some interest in a few of the new gTLDs, particularly .site, .tech and .science.
(d) Genetic Medicine (#genetic, #DNA, #CRISPR, Both in terms of editing to cure or prevent genetic related diseases using things like CRISPR, and genetics broadly and generally (e.g. consumer things like the ancestry services) is I think the sleeper that no one is talking much about (in the domain community - lots of talk in the world of science and medicine!). Unsure what CRISPR is? Here is a good short article including some potential applications, while this article from New Scientist describes 20 human trials either in place or about to start. I don't think there will not be a huge number of sales, but some of them will be at very good prices. While CRISPR has many applications outside health, I think medical applications will drive most of the domain name interest. The most obvious CRISPR name extensions are held in a few hands currently, only some of which are listed for sale. The golden era for CRISPR domain name sales is still a few years away, but 2018 will see some movement.
(e) Psychology/Healthy Mind (#PositivePsychology, #Happiness, #HappinessAdvantage) The idea of positive psychology was popularized through The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (see this link to learn more, including links to both the book and TED talk). The essential idea is expressed this way: "When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive." This means that the first step in becoming more productive is to work on your happiness level. I see various combinations of positive, psychology, happy, happiness and advantage in domain names as finding customers, both at the moderately high end and particularly at prices modest enough for a single consultant or counsellor. Positive psychology has clear implications for successful schools and businesses, although the impact is much broader than that. Of course this is just one topic in the area of mental health, and I see topics such as meditation, mindfulness, counselling, etc. all finding interest. Overall I think 2018 will be a good year for .org, and I see some of the big players here choosing .org, .net or possibly .site, .club or .online, instead of .com. There is probably room for some of the new gTLD to have an impact here too.
(f) Design I think design of various kinds will be popular, selling at amounts ranging fro tens of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. It is encouraging that big names like NPR, Facebook and Kohler have meaningly used the .design TLD, and I see this helping get the new gTLD finding a market among smaller companies. I don't see many sales of $1000 or more, but I think there will be a number of sales in the hundreds of dollars range. Those with good .design names will be able to make modest profits, or hold for another year for better returns.
(g) Environmental For good reason there will continue to be lots of international attention on issues of climate change and the environment more generally. Of course many of the players here will already use existing organizational or educational sites rather than purchase new domains, but I think media, non governmental organizations and others will be willing to pay small but significant amounts for a descriptive domain name. This is one area that I think .com will not be the best option. I think many environmental organizations will select TLDs like .site, .space, .website and .online, as well as the environment centred .eco TLD that comes with controls on who can use it.
(h) Startups Certainly 2017 was active for the TLD extension .io for tech startups, and the first couple of weeks of 2018 shows that trend continuing. Each year many startups begin (and end), and each wants a name that will feel unique. With limited budgets in some cases, I think we will see a small rebound of .xyz as a very low cost option for tiny startups and I see some cost-conscious startups with global hopes will go with .gdn (global domain name). Environmental startups may select .eco that brings credibility and the possibility to get a really short domain name.
(i) Freelancers I saved for last what I think will be the largest market for domain names - individuals starting single person companies, many of them part time. They will be looking for a domain name that is simple and catchy, but not be willing or able to pay a large amount. While many will use .com and .net (or a country or region extension), I see .pw, .site, .online, .top and .xyz finding some sales here. I also see good potential for the more specialized new gTLDs such as .design, .guru, .tech, .agency, studio and many others, as well as legacy extensions such as .pro and .biz (although overall I think .biz does not have a bright future). While the rebranding of .pw as professional web has had fairly modest success so far, I see 2018 being good for .pw including some sales in the tens to hundreds of dollars on the resale markets.
Clearly the above list reflects my own interests and biases. Please feel free to expand the list with your ideas through the comments section here, or through interacting with me on Twitter. There is no doubt that 2018 will be an interesting one in the world of domain names!
Disclosure: This report presents the views of the author, and is not intended as professional individual advice on which to base business decisions. The author has domain names for sale in several of the areas mentioned here, so bias is possible (or probable!). The complete list of domain names I own is available here.
Photo credits: The images used to illustrate the article are from Pixabay and believed to all allow commercial use. If you spot an issue with an image please let us know and we will remove it immediately. The images we use here are provided by Pixabay users Tumisu, geralt, TheDigitalArtist, qimono, CreativeMagic, stux, stevepb, StartupStockPhotos and OvidiuTepes.
Note: This report is presented both on the author's blog and as a white paper on NamesThat.win. The white paper version will be updated, and should be regarded as more authoritative. In particular the author owns CRISPR in various TLD extensions and a number of nanotech related domain names.
This article may be reprinted in whole or in part provided that a credit of the original source is given, ideally with a link.
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