The Coming Boom and Bust of Internet Real Estate

I have blogged numerous times in the past about domain name related issues that are concerns for brand owners: domaining, typosquatting, and the planned roll-out of new gTLD domains. This last issue–the expansion of the top-level domain space from a relative handful of top-level domains (like .com, .net, .org, etc.) to a world where it may be possible to put anything to the right of the dot–ostensibly promises to create an explosion in the domain space. (For the latest on that, see here.) Except that the Internet is running out of IP ("Internet Protocol") addresses, which I read about this week at The Fairwinds Blog at DomainNameStrategy.com (linking to this article at The Economist). Every domain name is just an alias for a numerical address. But beyond domain names, pretty much every device attached to the Internet has a unique IP address, and these addresses are dished out in large chunks. There are only ("only!") 4.29 billion IP addresses, and as of yesterday, February 3, 2011, they have all been allocated by the principal distributor, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Fortunately, there are already plans to migrate to a new system called IPv6 (the old system is IPv4), except that the new system is not compatible with the old system, so we all just may have to go back to tin cans connected with strings. Just kidding. But there may be difficulties, and this promises to be an important issue for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, I am thinking about collecting as many of the 4.29 billion IPv4 addresses I can get my hands on to put in a museum. Let me know if you have any for sale.

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