The shortest domains in the world are extremely rare. They are only 1 character short and have a complete length of 4 chars including the dot like g.co, t.co, b.mw. This type of domains can be provided only by countries or organizations like the European Union. Each country has only 36 such domains in the Latin1 charset. Also many registries blocked 1-char domains for potential future use, so they are even more rare. The estimated number is less than 2000 worldwide. The very limited nature made the domains an interesting investment object. And since they are not only cool but have some great technological potentials also many tech companies secured some for themselves.
A list of some examples and the holders:
a.co - Amazon b.mw - BMW (cars) f.ie - Facebook g.cn - Google g.co - Google m.me - Facebook t.co - Twitter t.de - Deutsche Telekom v.me - Visa 1.pl - Gram.PL (music) 8.pl - Polsat (TV) 7.fr - 7Médical (health)
But what exactly, beside being rare, made the shortest 1-char domains so attractive some big tech companies pay even millions to get one? Why do they care to get them already if some expensive pre-release sale is offered? The decision is always an individual but there are some common things that we can spot worth mentioning.
Surely most of us noticed already YouTube using
youtu.be or links that start with
bit.ly. This cool domain hacks help to make online posts more compact and look better. Lets just compare
http://w.fo/a123 with something like
http://www.web-forums.tld/news/articles/nr123/index.php?lang=en. With the shortest possible domain this can be taken to perfection. One of the most prominent example might be Twitter with its
t.co domain. A 1-char domain can offer a potential more than 80 times higher than a two char domain (or 6.400 times better than with a 3-char, etc.) when used for link shortening. That's simply a result of mathematics.
A 1-char allows to make really crazy cool e-mails like
email@example.com. This e-mails are fast to type and easy to spell by phone - very practical when it comes to some clients. With one 1-char domain it is possible to make 36 such e-mail addresses.
Companies do not need a bundle of short domains to get best effectivity - only one domain is enough. Users remember this one domain so it becomes a little 'brand' associated with a company and trusted. When users know this type of link they don't have to fear security concerns clicking messages since they know what company it stands for.
People appreciate it when things are kept simple and they do not need to type much. Nor to read to much... period ;)
Because of the efficiency there are new technology potentials based on a 1-char domains. An example is combining the shortening with using a QR 2D code. A partner startup uses this combination to make smaller codes that do not look so ugly or to make codes that can be scanned better and from longer distance. Tests at QR.mk show that the distance for scanning QR codes could be extended by 30+% allowing the use of QR in completely new applications than until now ( http://qr.mk/examples ). More than 50 million best quality ver1 codes can be used with a single 1-char domain.
This allows significant improvement for marketing purposes. But this is only one possible use when combining short domains with QR. A lot of other new applications may appear in future.
Short domains do not appear so often so this is also a gimmick to get interest of clients. German car maker BMW already had quite short
bmw.de but now also uses
b.mw. And famous Kim Dotcom owns the
1-char domains since years are an object of investment. In the last years we have seen official sale numbers like 169.000 USD for
9.am, 115.000 USD for
8.co or 85.000 USD for
c.gl. But most probably the biggest sales kept secret have reached even 7-figure numbers.
G.cn sold by a Chinese investor to Google is told to have reached 1.000.000 USD. Other prominent examples worth mentioning are
z.com sold at 6.500.000 USD (this number is confirmed) and
x.com lately acquired by famous Tesla chief Elon Musk - here rumors speak even about $xx.xxx.xxx numbers. Though this are of course exceptional high sales many more 1-char domains proved to be a good investment. And they are a beautiful rare asset to have.
(JBS)External sources: http://dnjournal.com/ytd-sales-charts.htm , http://dnjournal.com/archive/domainsales/2015/2015-top-100-sales-charts.htm