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More domain name suffixes coming online, but few dot-coms want to be 'not-coms'

Updated:
NEW YORK (AP) _ In an online world dominated by dot-coms, many Web site operators remain cool to the not-coms _ the seven new domain name suffixes scheduled to debut in coming months.

``I've thought about these, but I can use only so many domain names,'' said Marilyn Bell, whose Web site, kodiakisland.com, provides information on an Alaskan island. ``I do think '.com' will for a long time be the first thought of.''

By far the most popular of the 252 Internet suffixes available, ''.com'' has become virtually synonymous with the Internet _ and the rise and fall of the so-called New Economy.

To help satisfy the demand for domain names, the Internet's oversight body last year approved seven new suffixes, the first major additions since the domain name system was created in the mid-1980s.

Sites ending in ''.info'' are scheduled to become active Wednesday, followed by ''.biz'' on Oct. 1 and ''.name'' on Dec. 13. Schedules for the others have yet to be determined.

Jeff Harmes, an intellectual property lawyer in Seattle, said his business clients have shown relatively little interest in the new suffixes.

``The sense of urgency and shortage of domain names eased considerably,'' Harmes said. ``A lot of domain names are becoming available again because businesses that use them go out of business.''

Chris Bura, president of domain name registration company AllDomains.com, said the new names are ``for a while going to be the ugly stepchild of dot-com.''

During the height of the dot-com boom, good ''.com'' names were in such demand that many commanded thousands, even millions, of dollars in the resale market. Business.com went for a record $7.5 million.

But demand fell with the economy.

``A lot of domains we have will sell for $8,000 or $10,000, while 18 months ago, they would have brought $50,000 to $150,000,'' said Greg McLemore, chief executive of WebMagic, a venture capital and consulting firm in Pasadena, Calif.

Early interest in ''.biz'' and ''.info'' names has come from speculators hoping to resell good names at higher prices and companies looking to protect their trademarks. Dell Computer Corp., for instance, sought about 20 names under each suffix but hasn't determined how it'll use them.

The new names have also generated interest abroad, where ''.com'' is viewed as an American suffix.

NeuLevel Inc., the company in charge of ''.biz,'' is spending tens of millions of dollars in newspaper and online advertising. It's promoting ''.biz'' as the first truly global suffix for businesses.

The ''.name'' suffix will be targeted at individuals who want to run Web sites and receive e-mail using their own names. The ''.pro'' suffix will be for professionals, ''.museum'' for museums, ''.aero'' for the air travel industry and ''.coop'' for business cooperatives.

Unfortunately for the new suffixes, Internet users have become accustomed to adding ''.com'' to whatever company or group they are looking for, said James Jepsen, a graphic designer in Santa Maria, Calif.

Adding ''.biz'' and other names, he said, ``will just make it that much harder to find sites on the Net.''
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