300 domain names a day cash in on new iPhone craze
As hundreds of people queued up around the US to get their hands on Apple's new iPhone, dozens of entrepreneurs were at home on their computers hoping to cash in on the hype - by registering internet sites incorporating the iPhone name.
The number of registrations spiked as high as 300 a day, as names such as iPhoneJewelry.com and TheAppleMaciPhone.com were among the domains snapped up last month. But Apple, too, has belatedly swung into action to ensure it carves out the right amount of cyberspace to sell its new gadget, the first web-enabled phone with combined music player that has truly captured the public imagination.
Until the end of last week, Apple did not even control the iPhone.com domain name. That website had been around since 1995 and last changed hands a year ago. The site was displaying adverts for a range of iPhone rivals, all sorts of mobile phones with the ability to play music, and no information at all about the Apple device.
That all changed at the weekend as Apple moved to correct its oversight, and the site now links directly to Apple's own iPhone pages. Details of the owner of the domain name - and of whether they have sold or simply licensed the name - are unavailable because it was registered using a proxy registration service, the equivalent of making a phone number ex-directory.
Jay Westerdal, the president of Name Intelligence, which analyses patterns in domain names, said 450 iPhone-related names were registered on the January day that Apple first unveiled its new gadget, and that there could be 8,000 related website names by the end of this year.
"A lot of the good ones were taken on the day of the announcement by the first people that heard the name," he said, "but the quality of iPhone names has been dropping. The really great names, such as iPhoneGames.com, were taken by almost psychic people over a year ago."
The profitability or otherwise of these iPhone-related websites will depend on what services their owners start to offer, and on whether they can generate enough interest to get them a high place among Google and others' search results. Anyone hoping to make a quick turn by selling the domain name looks likely to be disappointed, since hundreds are for sale on the auction site eBay, but few have attracted any bids.
Apple has sold an estimated 200,000 iPhones in the first weekend on sale in the US, where the phone works only with the AT&T mobile phone network. AT&T's own stores had sold out, and some customers complained that they were having difficulty activating the phone because a surge in users was causing network glitches.