Archive for March, 2009

.tel Domain Names: The Future of Business Cards?

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Recently I was told about .tel web addresses, actually not so much told about them, as told that they existed. I started looking into them, and at first had no idea what they were or why they existed, but the more I dug the more sense they made. So I am going to try and save you some of the time and effort I had to go through and give you the entire scoop in a few hundred words.

In a nutshell .tel addresses are the newest way to store all of your personal or business contact information in one, easily accessible, place on the web.  We’re here to explain what they are, and help you decide whether or not you need one.

What they are:
On the surface .tel is just another top-level domain (TLD), like .com, .org, .net etc. But that is where the similarities end.  Instead of needing to buy a domain name, find a hosting service for it, and design a website just to make your information accessible. All you need to do is purchase your .tel domain name of choice and fill in your information using their application.

The idea is that everything is as streamlined and consistent as possible. You can store any personal information you would ever want on your .tel address, you never need to pay for hosting, and if any of your information changes you can update it from anywhere anytime. It is the 21st century version of a business card. For examples of .tel pages check out (personal) and (business).

Should you use it?
As of March 24 they are in the 3rd phase of availability and will be generally available to the public for a “non-premium” ($375 for 3 years) price. They will be available starting at 19.99 for 1 year, with presumable better deals available if you purchase a longer term. In comparison to business cards this is a reasonable price, and if the service becomes ubiquitous it could essentially replace all of the online phone directories.
The only way that this becomes overwhelmingly successful however, is if it reaches a critical mass and becomes the de-facto standard for accessible contact information. The problem they face is that their service is VERY simple and anyone could make a knockoff with even more functionality. Or worse yet, someone like Facebook could leverage its existing user base (of over 175 million people) and provide a similar service for free. The thing that telnic (the company behind .tel) has going in its favor is an entire TLD assigned solely for this purpose. That fact alone makes them a huge force and makes it much more recognizable than some 3rd party website trying to offer the same service.

If this does take off, and it looks promising, then it could change and completely streamline the way we lookup information for people and businesses everywhere.

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