If you’re keeping up to date on new developments in Internet and domain naming conventions, you may have noticed a fairly recent explosion in domain extensions outside of the traditional .COM, .NET, .ORG, etc.

As the Internet quickly becomes more and more ubiquitous, new and more specialized extensions have greater importance; not only to differentiate websites from one another, but also to open up greater possibilities to come up with snappy domain names. Some companies even go so far as to create a brand new domain extension JUST for their own personal use.

Sometimes, however, a company that creates a domain extension decides that they would prefer not to use it. What happens to the domain extension then?

Bond University

Most of the time, when an organization and ICANN create a new domain extension exclusively for them, and then decide not to use it, they simply terminate their contract and the domain extension ends up unused and unavailable to anyone. Currently about 50 domain extensions exist in this kind of limbo. Sometimes, though, the domain extension is appealing enough that someone who doesn’t want to see it go to waste steps in to save it.

This is precisely what happened with the .BOND extension.

The .BOND extension was originally created by Bond University in Australia. They worked together with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to create the name, and they even got as far as finalizing their agreement in 2014. However, for one reason or another, the extension went largely unused. Bond University decided to continue using conventional .EDU.AU extensions. They only ended up using the .BOND extension once, as a placeholder domain.

So what became of the .BOND extension? Earlier this year (2019), Bond University and ICANN reworked their contract and sold the distribution rights of the name to ShortDot, a domain registry founded in 2017. Since the sale, ShortDot and ICANN have been hashing out another contract, one that allows ShortDot to sell the domain to select registrars who are then able to sell the domains to users. This year, they finished that contract, and as of writing this article in December 2019, the domain is now available to all users through certain accredited domain registrars.

Now that ShortDot owns the name, they can technically do whatever they want with it. Luckily for the public, they have decided to make it available as a generic TLD, or Top Level Domain. ShortDot has gone on record saying that they believe the domain will appeal to offerers of financial bonds, bail bondsmen, and even James Bond fans.

What is ShortDot?

This isn’t the first time ShortDot has purchased a domain that was originally created for a specific organization to repurpose as a generic TLD. In May 2018, they purchased .ICU from One.com, which hadn’t really been using it. Since then, the .ICU extension has grown rapidly as a gTLD. Over a period of 16 months, ShortDot enabled the registration of over two million domains using the .ICU extension, which bodes exceedingly well for the future success of .BOND.

ShortDot made .BOND domains available to trademark holders on October 17, 2019. It opened the domain up to the general public on November 19.

Thus far, this article has been referring to ShortDot as a domain registry. If you’ve been looking into obtaining a domain name, you might already be familiar with another term: domain registrar. The difference between these two types of organizations are pretty cut and dry. Domain registries manage one or more gTLDs. They create new extensions and manage rules about how the extensions can be used.

Registrars, on the other hand, are the companies that sell these domains to users. This means that although ShortDot is the company that now legally owns the .BOND domain extension (as well as .ICU and many others), you can’t register one directly from them. They give permission for certain registrars, such as 101domain, to sell the domain on their behalf, provided that they follow the guidelines for use and distribution that ShortDot sets.

So, if you’re looking to register a .BOND domain for yourself, now that it has been opened up to the general public, you’ll need to go to a registrar to do so. Your registrar will also handle the setup and renewal of the domain, and any questions or concerns you have about your new piece of digital real estate should be directed to them.

Pricing

Currently, .BOND is still considered a premium domain extension, and so it comes at a premium price. Typically you can expect to spend somewhere in the region of $1000 per domain, although prices can vary a bit depending on the registrar you use (101domain prices .BOND domains at closer to $900, for example).

That being said, the price may change over time. The founder of ShortDot, Kevin Kopas, has gone on record saying that the goal of ShortDot is to “offer domains that are affordable for end users and profitable for registrars” (Source). By the time the price drops, however, you can also expect the supply of interesting, snappy, and relevant names to have dried up considerably. So if you are considering purchasing a .BOND domain, it may still be in your best interest to buy now in order to have a better shot at making your money back later.

At the end of the day, whether you wish to register a .BOND domain or not, it still represents an interesting quirk in domain name conventions. .BOND has had a very peculiar lifecycle, going from a company-exclusive domain, to being available only to trademark holders, to being open to public use—all in the span of a few years! It nearly died while being owned by Bond University, not by any fault of the institution, but simply because it wasn’t working in their favor. It was saved by ShortDot, and now it can have a new life as your website. It really is a bit like the wild west out here sometimes.