Thursday, April 2, 2009

Are .tel addresses the new vanity phone numbers?

Follow me for a second; in just a few lines, I aim to convince you that .tel addresses are not another TLD. There’s really something else going on here.

By far the most convincing attribute of .tel addresses isn't what most blogs are talking about -- quickly updating data, no hosting, etc. -- but that, if apps are developed for mobile phones, instead of having phone numbers in your phone, you could store .tel domains that your friends can update as their info changes (putting your friends in control of *their* contact information stored in *your* phone). This means no more “dead numbers” or emails flying back and forth saying “I changed my number.” There must be 1,000s of Facebook status updates and 100,000s of emails daily that inform people of changes in phone numbers. All of these people would immediately understand what .tel offers: It takes a headache away for them -- and that alone is worth the $10-$15/year to register a .tel.

What does this mean in the short term? It means that .tel addresses could become a new way to contact people (it’s easier to remember than a phone number AND, as the data stored on the .tel changes, those changes will automatically propagate to all the mobile devices the .tel contact is saved on). There are privacy issues that will need to be ironed out -- not everyone wants just anyone to be able to contact them (as an aside, corporations do!) – but everyone evaluating .tel should understand this: It’s not what *you* see on the .tel “page”; it’s what your mobile device sees – up-to-date contact information stored not on your phone, but on a central server.

What does this mean in the long term? It means that .tel domains could become the new vanity phone numbers. Remember the trade in 1-800 numbers of the 1990s? Many early domainers do – that’s what got them to recognize the scarcity of domains early on.

Here’s a long shot: It’s possible that generic .tel domains could become more valuable than generic 1-800 numbers. If the concept of .tel domains as proxies for phone numbers takes off, you’ll get more unsolicited, pre-qualified leads from people typing (not one of mine) into a browser or mobile device than you would from 1-800-RealEstate. My rationale: When is the last time you dialed a generic 1-800 number when looking for something? For me, never. When is the last time you typed in a generic domain when you were looking for something? For me, a few times a day. .tel could have the characteristics of vanity 1-800 numbers AND some of the type-in-traffic benefits of TLDs.

If you agree with any of this at all, send it to Digg or Reddit, link to it, Twitter it, etc. and let’s let the public debate it.

Additional thought:
I emailed a version of this post to a friend the other day. Let’s say his name is John Doe. Right before I clicked “send,” I thought, “What if on my phone I typed (assuming is taken) to call my friend and to email him I did the same - just typed into the email "To" field?” Similar to the discussion above, either my email provider or an app I’m using would identify my friend’s email address from and send the email to that. I wouldn’t have to remember his email address or look it up.


cobo said...

This is VERY interesting and an approach to the .TEL extension that I've not seen or heard yet. It makes sense. If and, more likely, when this takes hold, I would imagine that not only will individuals jump on this but the appeal to corporations would be hard to ignore.

Unknown said...

Good post and a highly probable scenario. Just to take it a step further, your actual phone number and e-mail address will likely be depreciated and bear the same relationship to your .tel as the IP address does to a standard domain name.

Take this a step further and your phone number and e-mail can change regularly without adverse effect to friends - just as an IP address can easily be updated without adverse effect to users of the domain name. Great if you're a celeb and need to change numbers regularly. Great for the rest of us if you want to keep off the radar of telemarketers.

Clearly cycling email addresses and phone numbers are not existing services or easy to provide, but when you think through the logistics, they shouldn't be impossible to develop, even if it means developing some new technology.

Anyway, good past. Thought provoking stuff.

Jennifer said...


Great insights; I think the naysayers of .tel will eventually see the value of this little electronic card, especially when they realize how easy it is to integrate .tel with .com sites.

Ms Domainer



TheJDHGroup said...

Finally...someone that "gets" it...

Nice to see a post like this instead of all the rhetoric B.S. I've had to sift through regarding the .tel as the next susan b anthony of the domaining world.

Good to see someone actually using their brain instead of doing the "sheep" thing and bashing it because some self proclaimed domaining experts say so.

There are a lot more possibilities with this extension, especially the way the mobile masses are detaching themselves from the immobile thinkers.

Unknown said...

Great article. Keep them coming. Let's educate the masses!

Kevin Jackson

JF Mayer said...

You are right: this is exactly where I see the potential of the .tel.
For me, the .tel should just replace the classic business card. The business card of the future might thus have: your name +, that's all - the inform (addresses, phone numbers, websites, social networks, position, etc., etc.) is online, constantly up to date.
I know success of .tel is not yet guaranteed. But if you look at it as something different, not just another TLD, you can see an interesting concept.
Then it is an issue of marketing (viral and otherwise) which will make it a success or not.

Doemainer said...

I got my .tel. I waited until it was open to the public and a more reasonable price.

I do think that there is potential for .tel, but not sold enough to invest in multiple domains yet.

I like the ability to easily update data in one place instead of in every profile and sending the annoying emails....."Hey everybody, I have changed my address or phone number."
Check out my .tel story at


Shay said...

This makes a lot of sense - seems quite obvious when you read it... seems even more probable when you put some thought into it. Good article.

Also, Matthew makes an interesting point too.

And btw. - I'm assuming that was a pre-order? My was long gone by the time I checked. 4 letter makes it hard to catch in most extensions anyway.

Brandable Domain Names

Jennifer said...


Yes, I did get during landrush, and it was a pre-order.

I knew if I waited, I wouldn't have had a prayer of getting it, and there would be no chance of getting it on the aftermarket, at least at a price I could afford.

Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and pay your money.


Ed Metz said...

Excellent post ... It's not about .com vs .tel web sites; its about having a memorable listing in the global "yellow pages". Your business card (not that you'll need one) is a simple card with one word: Or ... imagine driving down the interstate and your taxes are due next week. You pass a billboard with one word in large type: ... who ya gonna call? (Disclosure: I own both of these).

These are like vanity license plates, but with much more brand power. So much so that I believe it's possible they will actually replace phone numbers to a large extent ... and that's on a global basis. Think of a phone number as an IP address that you don't have to remember anymore. Ultimately, I think the real killer app for .tel is something that we can't imagine today, but wonder how we did without in the future ...

Kiwihiker said...

I really, really, really, like this blog (and the posted comments) - .tel seemed like an interesting concept, so I bought a few around personal/partner's businesses and general concepts I have interests in e.g.,, Your comments nicely expand the mindset that people have focused on to date around this new TLD.

If Telnic is able to engage the Skypes, telecomms providers, and equipment manufacturers of the world (e.g. GPS units in vehicles to accept keyed .tel names if they had internet linkages), this could really start to go places. To work well, the system needs some fundamental content if it is to really serve as a core global directory:

o There needs to be some sort of searchable and categorised meta-directory where the .tel accounts can be associated and categorised (like a yellowpages) – at the moment, they’re individualised and piece-meal

o Google/search-engine support. If I google ".tel bookstore melbourne", every store in melbourne with a webpage returns because the .tel hits on the telephone entry in their webpage. If I only want to hit .tel entries, I need to be able to filter them

o Some capability for location-sensitive searches (e.g. or where your locale can be fed into the search and you can get contextual responses. Then bang, feed that to your GPS etc and you get some extensive flexibility

However, I don’t think that can work because some individual (or Amazon) will have already grabbed bookstore. So the concept of this becoming a global directory falls down immediately (unless Telnic creates one under something like or assuming they had the foresight to reserve that…)

There is definitely potential, but I don’t see this working as a true, integrated, global directory – merely a really cool contact portal for individual entities. If it can be integrated, then it’ll start to get some real momentum

Anonymous said...

great approach, i actually ended up finding another site through my search for dot tel monetization over at its definitely with a look

Anonymous said...

Hi, I guess you're all right. I has got a .tel to try these new functionalities. I'm wondering that many services will use this new TLD. Some developper are working on ".Tel compliant" services, and it's a very great thing. All alone, .tel domains are not really useful IMO, but your post makes me think that Telnic (the firm which owns .tel domains) is talking about a firm named "voipgate" (a web phone operator, his website seems to be which creates many services to manage .tel and make phone calls directly with .tel addresses. That's exactly what I wait of a .tel !
When you see what is possible with these kind of services, I really hope that this will create many new "killer apps" around .tel

Thanks for your post :)

Ron said...

Very interesting article. I totally belive this domain will be successful in the near future.

Here are some of the reasons I believe this technology will work:

Arvydas said...

Does .tel is in line with the business etiquette and I can use it on my business card instead of tel.numbers and other communication addresses ????
Thanks in advance

Luke said...

.tel is great for business and is being used in print advertising. Here's an example:


Anonymous said...

Agree with most of the comments on here that your take on using .tel as a contact entry for things like email, skype, mobile phones etc is where this will become successful.

What the system needs however is a simple password for people to be able to access your .tel contacts. For example, I'll happily give contacts to my friends for them to put in their phones, on facebook or on their emails, but I don't want the whole world to have them.

Until there is some degree of security options on the system, I'm not going to be putting any contact info into the public domain.

SDM said...


Imagine one day, going to Verizon, ATT or any other mobile store and purchasing a bundled mobile phone package that includes the registration of an available .tel domain of your choice.

ET (Emergent Tel)

Say goodbye to your ten digit numerical friend. The .tel domain you just registered IS your new "phone number" as well as your single point of contact.


VOIP/Mobile data embeded within the .tel domain is the only identifier you'll ever need to make or take another phone call.