Dot com is today's 800 number

A few years ago, Lexicon Branding, one of the naming firms where I worked, researched perceptions of .com, .net and .biz top-level domain names.

The research found that .coms are, in the abstract, perceived more positively over the lesser-used .biz (et al) domains. This is not surprising: Familiarity breeds trust.

But that's today. The domains will eventually become more widespread and familiar as companies struggle and fail to find great .com names. The roster of today's bad web names goes on and on; companies compromise their name and ultimately their success just to secure a .com.

That's unwise. The Lexicon research also revealed that people's perceptions of an actual website did not differ no matter what its top-level domain. So in the end, the top-level domain doesn't change perceptions.

Dot com is already losing relevance. The strength of search engines like Google makes finding companies by their name, not their domain name, easy. As a name developer, I welcome the day that the tipping point finally comes when .com top-level domains are no more special than .net, .biz, or whatever others ICANN ordains.

There was a time when only a 1-800 indicated a toll-free telephone number. Now, there are many and they are readily accepted.

The same will hold true for top-level domains.