"The future is here already" poster

(Image courtesy of gwire under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence.)

The start of the year is traditionally a time when bloggers make foolhardy predictions, thus putting themselves at risk of ridicule in the next end-of-year roundup.

We’ve never been ones to shun such an opportunity, so here’s what we think 2011 has in store for the world of domain names.

1. XXX domain names to hit the market – and the headlines

June 2010 finally saw the much-discussed .xxx domain extension get the official go-ahead. This domain extension will be used for just the kind of family unfriendly sites you’d imagine.

We ran a customer survey a few months back which showed 70% of people would be happy for us to sell these domains, but we still expect plenty of news coverage for the domain name industry when the first .xxx domains appear in 2011.

2. Security problems for URL shortening services

Last year, a single URL generated through website address shortening service bit.ly resulted in over 352 million spam emails. That’s a lot of junk. And it gets worse – because they hide the original website address, URL shorteners can redirect you to malware-ridden websites.

We think this problem will become more widespread in 2011 – and as a result, more sites will set up private short URLs, reducing the need for public services like bit.ly. (And we haven’t even mentioned some of the other risks.)

3. Another big company domain name embarrassment

In 2008 it was Emirates and GMTV. In 2009 famous toy shop Hamleys fell victim to the same problem. And last year saw Boris Johnson lose control of BackBoris.com, which he’d previously used to promote his successful bid to become Mayor of London. Whoops.

We confidently predict that at least one well-known company or organisation will suffer the same fate in 2011 by failing to pay to renew an important domain name. A word of advice? Use autorenewal, folks.

4. A royal wedding domain name glut

Everyone loves a wedding. Especially domainers, who went crazy registering domain names the moment Wills and Kate announced their engagement. It’s just like when we first heard of Sarah Palin.

The big day is still a few months away, but as April 29 gets closer, we reckon the market will be flooded with second rate royal wedding related domains for sale at knock down prices. Will anyone actually want them?

5. We won’t get a look in on one and two-letter domains

Nominet – which oversees .uk domain names – plans to release a bunch of one- and two-letter domain names which have been unavailable up until now. But don’t get your hopes up about bagging one then selling it on for a profit.

The impossibility of registering one of the tiny number of domains left after the ‘sunrise’ period for trademark owners means you’ll have to be very, very lucky to do well out of this.

6. Olympics domains will take off. Some people will get burnt

As the 2012 Olympics get closer, we’ll see more people trying to make a fast buck by selling on Olympics-related domain names. But be very, very careful. There are tight restrictions around when and how you can use words and symbols relating to the Olympics.

Sure, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) seems to have taken a relaxed view so far, but there’s nothing to stop them clamping down on profiteering as the Games draw closer. On balance, it would probably be unwise to spend £7,000 on 2012-london-olympics.co.uk then.

Oh – and one last prediction: we’ll be seeing lots more new domain name extensions on 123-reg, starting with .so, which is coming very soon. Watch this space.

Leave a comment and let us know what you’re expecting from 2011.

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