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Bob Hawkes

A Look at Single-Character Domain Names: Availability, Sales, Use, Plus a New Tool

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By Bob Hawkes, Feb 12, 2020 at 8:33 PM
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Short domain names have impact, and there can be no shorter domain name than one with a single character to the left of the dot. Unfortunately, most of the single-character domain names in the major legacy extensions are not available at any price.

    There are, however, single-character domain names in many country-code domain extensions, as well as numerous possibilities within new domain extensions. In this article, I take a look at sales and use of single-character domain names. Also, there is a new free tool to find available single-character, and other short, domain names.

    At least as recorded in the NameBio database, there have been 605 sales of single-character domain names with an average price of $23,700. About 70% of the single-character domain name sales were in country-code domain extensions. The top sale was Z.com at $6.784 million.


    Why So Few Single-Character Domain Names in Legacy Extensions?

    In December 1993, it was decided by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), now part of ICANN, that any single-character domain names in .com, .net and .org that had not already been put into use would be reserved. That is why so few single-character legacy extension domain names are in use today.

    There has been talk in recent years to revisit that policy, and possibly release some of them. It appears that many of the single-number .org domain names have been released, as they are listed for sale.

    The letters Q, X and Z in .com, I, Q in .net and X in .org were already assigned at the time the policy came into force in 1993. These domain names continue in use today, although in most cases in different hands. A few others, such as Q in .org, have been put into use.
    • The domain name X.com was used by Elon Musk and Greg Kouri for X.com, one of the first online banks. Following a merger with Confinity, X.com became PayPal in 2001. In July 2017 Elon Musk announced that he had reacquired X.com from PayPal for an undisclosed price. While one might think it was for SpaceX, Musk indicated at the time that it was largely for sentimental reasons. Currently X.com is rather underused - check out the link!
    • The domain name Q.com is in use by CenturyLink, an Internet, phone and television provider. When I checked, it seems in use for account service, as opposed to a general redirect. CenturyLink were not the original owners, purchasing it from the 1993 owner.
    • The domain name Z.com is used by Japanese-based Internet services provider GMO, one of the world’s major domain registrars. GMO have been in operation since 1991, but purchased this domain name in 2014 in a private sale for $6.784 million.
    • The domain name Q.net is used by Q Networks.
    • The original owner of I.net was INet Solutions, although it is currently used by Future Media Architects.
    • The domain name X.org is used by the educational nonprofit X.org foundation.
    • The domain name B.org is in use by the crowd funding site Benevolent, although it redirects to their benevolent.net site.
    • The domain name Q.org sold in 2018 for $500,000 in a transaction handled by Braden Pollock of Legal Brand Marketing. The name is used by the Q cryptocurrency site.

    Single-Character Country-Code Domain Names


    While some country-code extension registries do not release single-character domain names, the majority do allow them. Therefore, many single-character country-code domain names exist. Among well known country-code extensions that permit single letter domain names are: .ai. .de, .gg, .pw, .to, .tv and .ws.

    Among the better known uses of single letter .co domain names.
    • A.co used by Amazon
    • G.co used by Google for URL shortening
    • T .co used by Twitter for URL shortening and link security
    Many of the single letter .co domain names are currently for sale.

    There are also well known single letter .me domain names in use.
    • G.me takes you to your Google accounts
    • M.me used by Facebook Messenger
    • T.me used by Telegram
    • V.me used by Visa
    One of the larger single-character sales was 9.am that sold in 2017 for $169,000 at West. It is in use by an Asian multi-purpose redirection site that includes links to online casinos, payment systems and related services.


    New Extension Single-Letter Domain Names

    Although not all new domain extensions permit registration of single-character domain names, many do. Usually these are at substantial premium prices. In the next section I outline a new tool to help you find available names.

    The list of NameBio-recorded single-character domain sales has five .top and two .xyz among the top-10 sales, along with two legacy and one country-code domain name. A number of these new extension domain names are not in use currently, although p.top is in use by an Asian cryptocurrency operation, and 9.xyz is used by the XYZ registry to promote their premium sales.

    Among the interesting single-character end use examples is X.company which is used by Alphabet for The Moonshot Factory.


    A New Tool to Find Available Short Domain Names

    Recently a new online tool was released that makes it easy to search for available short domain names, and then to compare registration prices. The tool is at wee.domains. It is free to use, although it has monetized affiliate links.

    The tool allows you to search for available domain names up to 5N or 4L, but searches can be restricted to, for example, single-character domain names by checking the L and N in the Label Type selector on the left hand column.

    Wee.domains showed me, at time of writing, there were 5098 available single-character domain names. That is somewhat deceptive, since it includes many seldom-used extensions. Under the Pricing Model selector you can choose only standard or premium priced domain names.

    One can order the columns in wee.domains in various ways. For example, if ordered by price, it shows that 0.top is the most expensive, at $161,800, even at the cheapest registrar. A.career is a nice domain name expression, but it will set you back $112,000 just for the first year.

    For about $75 to $200 you can get a selection of single-character domain names in a variety of, mainly thinly used, extensions. The tool searches for all types of top level domains (TLD), but, if desired, you can restrict it to certain extensions or groupings.

    The Compare Prices column shows the prices at different registrars. The developer of wee.domains is the same person who developed TLD-List for comparing registration, transfer and renewal prices on domains, so the presentation is somewhat similar.

    I found a few bugs in prices - for example wee.domains showed me that the name v.pictures could be registered at a standard fee of $14 at one registrar, but it really was over $200. But with all of the functionality of the wee.domains, it is a powerful search engine for those who really have their heart set on a very short domain name.


    Finding Single-Character Domain Names in the Aftermarket

    While wee.tools is useful for finding available single-character domain names to register, you can also use Dofo.com for similar searches. Dofo has the advantage that it will also show you names listed for sale on all of the main aftermarket marketplaces.

    As an example, here is a list from Dofo of all domain names with the single letter X. At time of writing, there were 360 names available to register, 168 listed for sale, and 352 already registered. It is easy to use the Dofo filters to further restrict the list, or find links to where any particular name is for sale, as well as pricing information if available.


    How Frequently Have Single-Character Names Sold?

    While NameBio only covers sales from certain venues, and is a mix of wholesale and retail sales, it can provide guidance on how often single-character domain names sell.

    Here is a link to the NameBio list of single character domain name sales.
    • It shows that there have been 605 NameBio-listed sales of singe-character domain name] with an average price of $23,700.
    • The price range was from $100 to $6.784 million. The latter was for the Z.com sale noted earlier.
    • Country-code extension sales accounted for 426 of the 605 sales, with an average price of $7079.
    • New domain extensions accounted for 132 of the 605 total, with an average price of $26,700.
    • I also looked at the breakdown between letter and number sales in the 605 sales. Just over 23% of the single-character sales were numbers.
    • NameBio subscription plans allow you to look at sales under $100. There were an additional 56 domain names that sold under $100, including 11 in 2019.

    Internationalized Single-Character Domain Names


    I have not considered internationalized single-character domain names in this article, a whole topic on its own. This Wikipedia article shows you a number of single character internationalized domain names currently in use, but that is obviously a small subset of the total.

    Emoji domain names could also be considered single character.


    What Do You Think?

    What do you think about the policy to keep most single-character domain names in the legacy extensions off the market? Would you like to see them released? If so, what should be the mechanism and considerations for release?

    I hope readers will share in the comments section if they have single-character domain names. Also, if they have held any single-character domain names in the past, or brokered andy sales in them.

    If you have tried out wee.domains, share your thoughts on this new tool, or on other tools that you use to help locate very short domain names.


    Thanks to the creators of NameBio.com, Dofo.com and wee.domains for the tools I used for analysis in compiling this article.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020 at 9:14 PM
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  4. Bob Hawkes

    About The Author — Bob Hawkes

    Domain analyst, writer and educator, with particular interests in domain name phrases and non-business uses for domain names. I am a risk averse domain investor who only invests modest amounts in a variety of extensions and niches. Don't hesitate to contact me - I like to help!

    This is Bob Hawkes's 27th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (21)

  6. The Durfer

    The Durfer Upgraded Member Gold Account Blue Account VIP

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  7. Kemal G

    Kemal G Business Developer at dofo.com

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    FreelSEO New Member

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  9. noonoo1

    noonoo1 Top Contributor VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks Bob,
    Some great insight, I have a few single letter & single number for my country, just waiting for that offer to come in.
     
  10. Braden Pollock

    Braden Pollock VIP Member ICA Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Nice article, Bob.
    B.org is mine. I'm on the board of Benevolent so I set the redirect.
     
  11. oldtimer

    oldtimer Do some good for humanity and the environment VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks for a very informative and interesting article.
     
  12. domainexpert77

    domainexpert77 Established Member Epik.com Staff

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    Thanks for this informative post Bob.

    Quality content as usual
     
  13. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Best wishes for them! I wish I personally owned a single-letter domain name!

    Thanks for your comment and the additional information about B.org. I had wondered how Benevolent could afford that premium domain name. And now we know the story! Best wishes to you, and to Benevolent.

    BTW only a couple of single character have sold, at least in NameBio, yet in 2020. List here.

    One of the single characters that works well is I, which can mean I (as in you) or interactive, internet, etc. I used Dofo to look at how many single-letter domain names with i are listed For Sale. The list is here and includes 176 I single-character domain names for sale. Many are Make Offer, but those with prices range from $420 to $50 million! (quite the range :xf.grin:). I think three are at the million dollar or more mark. I suspect that the number at $420 are registry premium sales being offered on marketplaces.

    I also like the number 1 with many extensions so used Dofo to search on those. There are 180 currently listed for sale - see the list of 1 domain names for sale here. There are some superb names in that list including the .org at $1 million and the .de at $700,000. Some of the new extensions also work nicely with 1, for example 1.world is available for sale at $25,000.

    Best wishes to all either selling single-character domain names, or dreaming about owning one. I am in the latter group, personally.

    Bob
     
  14. tld-list

    tld-list New Member

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    Founder of wee.domains & tld-list.com here. Thanks for the mentions and great article Bob!

    Just wanted to mention wee.domains is brand new and there are a few bugs and some slowness. I'm working on fixes, and you can track its development (and submit any feature requests) by clicking "Roadmap / Issues" at the top of wee.domains.

    Additionally, I'm also adding all available 5L .com's to wee.domains. The process is about 28% complete - there are 11.8M possible 5L .com's, and currently I've tracked 2.4M that are available. I expect it to be finished in about 2 weeks.

    Thanks again!
     
  15. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Hey I am happy to see you on NamePros :xf.smile:, and thank you so much both for this and for TLD-List. It is a rare day I do not use TLD-List and DomComp as I love to save money!

    For me at least, wee.domains has been pretty fast and responsive. Thanks for the opportunity for people to post feature requests or updates re fixes. Also interesting to see that you are adding 5L which will definitely be something of interest to a good proportion of NamePros members.

    Thanks again,

    Bob
     
  16. Almarri.Company

    Almarri.Company AZ.Company Gold Account VIP

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    Single Character :
    X.Company using by Google X
    G.Company using by G Official partner google
    E.Company using by eCompany Limited.

    Thanks Bob
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020 at 2:17 AM
  17. Rippa

    Rippa Established Member

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    Many Thanks for a well-crafted & topical article Bob.

    I'm dissatisfied with continued relegation of so-called IDN to an underclass. It is John Bull imperialism, where the non-English were heathens, savage, and ethnic -- now recognized as outrageous. Times have changed. The universe doesn't permanently revolve around English-speakers or Yankees (who themselves are "ethnic" to the rest of the world).

    Everyday, billions of people use languages and single-characters from character sets deemed IDN or International Domain Names. These characters may not be on an American's keyboard, but they are on the daily-use keyboards of "foreigners"... this includes important accent marks of French, Spanish, etc.

    Fortunately these characters can be input using a shorthand known as punycode, which begins "xn--" ...

    But we should recognize that's IN ADDITION to direct input. Emoji keyboards of various sorts also exist.

    Using these character strings as domains is getting easier and more widespread, but combining with legacy extensions may NOT be the most likely future, as toggling in-and-out of different character sets can be awkward.

    Best Wishes & Happy Valentine's Day! ❤️
     
  18. Jean Carlos

    Jean Carlos New Member

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  19. pb

    pb Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Not so private, they purchased it from Nissan, who in the past used it to promote Nissan Z (by redirecting to nissanusa.com/z/). However, judging by the archive.org entries from the 1990s, they probably were not the original registrant.
     
  20. .X.

    .X. God is great Gold Account VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks Bob, Excellent stuff.

    X.com
    X.net
    X.org

    are my dreamers
     
  21. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Yes sorry my wording was poorly chosen. I meant private in the sense of not through one of the major marketplaces, as used on NameBio. Thanks for sharing the prior use related to Datsun / Nissan Z.
    Bob
     
  22. MarkedMarket

    MarkedMarket Established Member

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    Dear Bob - many thanks for your always informative articles. I think however that some of the information in the above paragraph is not completely correct. You mention that 360 domain names with the single character X are available for registration according to Dofo (including x.info, x.ru, x.us, x.fr, etc, etc), but I think most of them are reserved/restricted (e.g. no single character registrations are allowed for most of these extensions). Dofo should therefore actually also not show them as being available.
     
  23. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Thank you and I am sure you are right that Dofo sometimes lists as available names that are truly reserved. In fact the creator of Dofo sent me a message mentioning that especially in country codes with a mismatch of many different systems that can happen. Tools like Dofo, and now wee.domains, I view as the starting point in looking at availability, and obviously any name needs to be investigated to confirm availability.

    For information, here is a list of country-code extensions that permit single letter registrations, at least according to Wikipedia (I see that the source given is not a link to this information however).
    ".ac .af .ag .ai .am .bo .by .bz .cm .cn .co .cr .cz .cx .dj .de .dk .fm .gd .gg .gl .gp .gs .gt .gy .hn .ht .ie.[2] im .io .je .kg .ki .kw .la .lb .lc .ly .md .mg .mk .mp .ms .mw .mx .mu .nf .nz .pe .ph .pk .pl .pn .pr .pw .ro .sh .st .tc .tl .tt .to .tv .ua .ws .vc .vg .vn and .vu"

    Thanks again, @MarkedMarket

    Bob
     
  24. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    By the way @pb mentioned the Z sale. After writing this post I came across this good article by Michael Berkins at The Domains about the sale to GMO. It says that Nissan were the original registrant, although the page had not been used for a number of years.

    Bob
     
  25. MarkedMarket

    MarkedMarket Established Member

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  26. SM Premium Domains

    SM Premium Domains New Member

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