Generic Internet domain names may become like personalised licence plates if an Auckland doctor's investment plans come to pass. Dr John Walker has spent more than $40,000 this year registering in generic domain names in the .nz space.
A search by Computerworld found 412 names registered to Walker — meaning he holds more .nz names than any other individual or organisation. Telecom Inter-net Services, which has also been active in registration this year, only has 109. Most of the names are hosted by registry specialist 2Day Internet, which charges $99 per name per year.
Walker says he has registered the names as an investment. "If people are interested in them, we can talk about what they're worth, otherwise I'll hang on to some of them, and some I'll use myself.
"I was going to start advertising them, but I haven't had time to put them up on a site yet. I was planning to start doing that next month, but I figure there's no great rush, because they'll only increase in value. I could sell one next week, but get three times as much for it in a year's time."
Walker has stuck to generic names, rather than seeking to register company names or trademarks as domains.
"There's not much point in registering non-generic names because they're liable to be taken away from you," he says. "That's been confirmed by the Oggi case [see Computerworld, June 15]."
Walker, who says he "not sure" how many domains he has, admits his portfolio is costing him "a fair amount to maintain".
"There is an ongoing cost associated with having that many, so I'll have to weigh up the pros and cons of selling off a few."
Walker's investments start with 001.co.nz and range through the obviously useful (chat.co.nz, clothes.co.nz, e-cash.co.nz, network.co.nz) to the frankly cryptic (g-a.co.nz) and the medical (entsurgeon. co.nz). He does not expect all of them to be immediately useful.
"It's early days for the Net in New Zealand, but I think it's going to take off more than a lot of people realise, with all the new technology that's coming along to make it faster and cheaper.
"The economic downturn we're facing will probably make people look for cheaper ways to trade or sell their wares or advertise, especially overseas. As the New Zealand dollar goes down, it costs more to advertise overseas, but in fact Americans in particular are all looking at the Internet — and it costs very little to put up a Web site here."
In the longer term, Walker even feels that his portfolio of names might be a better option than staying in practice as a doctor.
"Maybe I can retire earlier," he says. "And not have to worry about the various things that are happening to medicine in New Zealand to make it less attractive in the long term."