You've probably seen the adverts on the internet for the new ".co" domain names. What's it all about? What are the advantages of them? Will they take off? And should you get one?
There are two types of "top level domains" that you can use for your web address (this means the bit after the dot in your domain name). The first type are the generics types like .com and .org that everyone is familiar with. But there is also a second type, which are the country level domains. This type are always two characters long like .uk (for the UK), .fr (for France) or .de (for Germany). The .co top level domain is actually the country level domain for Columbia.
Some clever spark realised that this is just like the .co in domain names like .co.uk and a bit like .com so they figured they could sell these domain names outside of Columbia too.
So that's where they came from, what are the advantages?
Well there aren't really many advantages. The only significant advantage is that if your company name has already gone for the .co.uk and the .com, it is probably still available for the .co. Other than that, it's just the same as any other domain name.
Are there any disadvantages?
In the UK, there is already a bit of confusion over .com and .co.uk. When you tell someone your web address, it's usually one of these top level domains and people will forget which one and try both of them.
Adding .co to the mix just adds another thing to try, and as not many people are aware of .co, they might try the other two and forget about trying the .co altogether.
Add onto this the fact that it's so close to .co.uk and it'll cause more confusion in the UK than in countries that don't have a similar prefix for there country level domains.
Will it take off?
In short, no. This has been tried before with other country level domains. Western Samoa tried to market their country level domain, .ws, as "dot World Site". This was a complete failure so they're now remarketing it as "dot Web Site". It's proving to be an equally big flop.
Tuvalu tried to turn their domain, .tv, into "dot Television". This has had slightly more success with television companies around the world, but didn't have the success at attracting the multimedia websites they had hoped for.
Djibouti has failed to attract many DJs with their country level domain .dj.
There have also been other attempts to add more generic types like .info, .xxx, .travel, etc, but all of these have struggled to compete with the established .com.
So should you get one?
I really wouldn't bother unless you are trying to protect your brand. Lots of large companies buy their company name in every possible top level domain just to prevent other people from buying them and hijacking their trademarks. If you are one of these companies, then yes, you might as well spend a few pounds to protect your intellectual property. But as .co isn't a new top level domain, you probably already have it anyway.
But for everyone else, you should go for .com or your country's equivalent (.co.uk for UK companies) because they are engrained on everybody's psyche.