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.CO and .IO domains surge in popularity

The domain name kitchen.co sold for €70,000 in February, making it one of the top ten most expensive .CO domain names ever reported.

It’s part of a larger trend for .CO domains and .IO domains. Many businesses are opting to use short .CO and .IO domains instead of longer or more expensive .COM domains. Domain name investors are also active in the trend and are helping to drive prices up.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the domain market for .CO and .IO.

.co domain on billboard

.CO domains

The top level domain .CO is technically a country code domain name assigned to Colombia. In 2010, the top level domain was relaunched as a generic extension for the world. It’s an ideal domain for lots of organizations. It’s short, a common abbreviation for “company,” and recognizable as being one letter off from .COM. (The similarity to .COM is both a blessing and a curse; people sometimes misremember .CO domains as .COM.) 

.CO has become a widely-used domain name extension since its relaunch in 2010. Businesses such as 500 Startups, Brit + Co, and AngelList use .co domains. Even Taco Bell got in on the action, using the cute domain hack ta.co.

While .CO has been successful for a long time, sales have picked up in recent months, both amongst businesses and domain investors.

From late November 2020 to early February 2021, top public sales in addition to kitchen.co are:

  • Coach.co – $29,814
  • Roots.co – $14,500
  • Rail.co – $13,602
  • Beer.co – $12,100
  • Ghost.co – $11,000
  • Stellar.co – $10,000

These domain names would have cost a lot more in .COM, but are quite high for a non-.COM extension.

different .io domains

.IO domains

The domain extension .IO is also a country code, representing British Indian Ocean Territory. Like .CO, .IO has also become a popular domain name extension. Unlike .CO — which was heavily marketed — .IO has become popular mostly through usage by companies. Companies see that other businesses are using .IO and consider it for their own website.

IO is a computing term for input/output, so .IO has become a popular domain for technology companies. 

Tech companies using .IO include hiring technology company Greenhouse, WebOps platform Pantheon, and online event platform Crowdcast.

It’s also a popular choice amongst game developers for iOS and Android apps. A few popular apps started using .IO domains, and then copycats started using .IO at the end of their app name — even if they didn’t own the corresponding .IO domain name

Game sites using .IO include Agar.io, Itch, and Slither.io.

.IO domain prices have increased steadily over the past five years and the trend accelerated over the past two years. Of the top ten reported .IO sales ever, six have occured since 2019. The top reported sale of all time, bank.io, changed hands for $80,000 in December 2020.

Many recent sales are to end users, but others are taking place on domain investor marketplaces and in auctions.

Seven .IO domains have sold for $10,000 or more from late November 2020 to early February 2021:

  • Bank.io – $80,000
  • Domain.io – $50,000
  • Polly.io – $28,888
  • Pirate.io – $19,997
  • Browser.io – $16,500
  • Inova.io – $12,000
  • Prestige.io – $10,495

Keep in mind that these are only the sales that were publicly disclosed. Most sales are never announced. 

.co and .io domains in a briefcase

Investing in .CO and .IO

The surge of end user interest in .CO and .IO has also renewed interest among domain name investors. These investors have pushed up aftermarket sales prices for the domains, making it more challenging to invest in the extensions. Still, it’s much less competitive than the market for .COM domains. 

One thing to note is that .CO and .IO domains are more expensive than .COM. In particular, .CO renewal prices are typically over $20 per year, although first-year prices are usually much less. And be prepared to pay over $50 to register a .IO domain. Namecheap often offers discounted first year rates on .IO domains as well. The carrying costs of these domains is going to be more expensive than .COM. 

Investors should also recognize that the top sales in these domains are one-word domains. While two-word (and sometimes three-word) .COM domains often sell for over $10,000, only the best .CO and .IO domains top that amount. Of the 27 .CO domains that sold for $10,000 or more in 2020, 24 were one-word domains and three were three-letter domains. Of the 24 .IO domains that sold for over $10,000 in 2020, only three contained two words. 

Put it to use

Want to jump on the trend? Search for available .CO and .IO domains at Namecheap today.

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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