Land Rush On For .Me Domain Names

Last Updated Jun 9, 2008 1:27 PM EDT

The land rush for the .Me domain is underway and the usual domain name shenanigans are hereâ€"especially with speculation that Apple is hoarding these digital monikers to rebrand its .Mac service.

This speculation perked up earlier this month. Jason O'Grady tried to land a few Apple.me-ish domains only to find that they are unavailable. The land rush registration period means you fork over $100 to bid in an auction for popular names. Anyone may apply for a .Me domain touts the .Me Registry in a statement that should have read: "Come and get your .Me domains!"

The so-called land rush period runs from June 6 to June 26. So what's .Me really about? It's part revenue generation and part branding campaign for Montenegro. Who? Montenegro is a relatively newly independent country a little smaller than Connecticut.

Here's the history courtesy of the CIA Factbook, a great resource if you haven't used it yet:

The use of the name Montenegro began in the 15th century when the Crnojevic dynasty began to rule the Serbian principality of Zeta; over subsequent centuries Montenegro was able to maintain its independence from the Ottoman Empire. From the 16th to 19th centuries, Montenegro became a theocracy ruled by a series of bishop princes; in 1852, it was transformed into a secular principality. After World War I, Montenegro was absorbed by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929; at the conclusion of World War II, it became a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When the latter dissolved in 1992, Montenegro federated with Serbia, first as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and, after 2003, in a looser union of Serbia and Montenegro. In May 2006, Montenegro invoked its right under themonte.png Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro to hold a referendum on independence from the state union. The vote for severing ties with Serbia exceeded 55% - the threshold set by the EU - allowing Montenegro to formally declare its independence on 3 June 2006.
Despite the tagline that .Me is about you I can't help but think .Me is really about Montenegro. Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned, but when I see a .Me domain, I'm more likely to picture this map (right) than me. Is it Mobile.me or Mobile Montenegro. Apple.me or Apple Montenegro?

In any case, here's the timeline for this .Me domain fiesta from a statement:

June 6 to June 26: Landrush. This is the first opportunity for the public at large to apply. Anyone who doesn't have a trademark, but is interested in a specific .ME domain, can apply during this period. This is also when Sunrise challenges commence.

June 26 to July 15: Quiet Period. During this time, the registry is closed to registrars. Names for which there was only one application during the Landrush Period are allocated. Landrush auctions will begin for names that received multiple applications.

July 17: Open Registration. Domain names are registered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Given that timeline it's not likely that Apple will announce any Mobile.me stuff on Monday. Why would Apple preannounce a .Me service during a land rush period that will only invite more bidding from speculators. Either that or Apple has worked out a deal on the side with Montenegro.

In either case, it's clear that .Me is about Montenegro and a little revenue generation. Some tidbits about Montenegro from the CIA Factbook:

  • Population: 678,177
  • Ethnic groups: Montenegrin 43%, Serbian 32%, Bosniak 8%, Albanian 5%, other (Muslims, Croats, Roma (Gypsy)) 12%
  • Government structure: Republic
  • GDP per capita: $3,800
  • GDP real growth rate: 6%
  • Unemployment rate: 14.7%
  • Internet users: 266,000
Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of ZDNet sister site TechRepublic. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.
Credit: ZDNet
  • Larry Dignan

    Larry Dignan is editor in chief of ZDNet and editorial director of CNET's TechRepublic. He has covered the technology and financial-services industries since 1995.