Red Herring: The end of the URL as we know it

Sally Khudairi (
Wed, 7 Jul 1999 23:37:13 -0400

CATCH OF THE DAY: The end of the URL as we know it

When I first heard of Centraal's "RealNames" Web site naming
scheme, I was skeptical. Asking companies to register their
names and products through an additional service, plus the
fact that Web users didn't have easy access to this
registry, added up, in my mind, to a seriously flawed
business model.

Yet the RealNames service was, and is, needed. The current
technology-based Web addressing system is outdated.
Centraal's naming scheme is based on a more real-world
"appropriate use" policy and includes a conflict resolution
process. Interestingly, dot-com registrar Network Solutions
owns 10 percent of Centraal. And Centraal has recently
locked up important partnerships, including a deal with
Microsoft's MSN that will quietly make RealNames the default
search engine for words typed into the Internet Explorer
address bar.

The barriers to entry in Centraal's business are high, but
the Microsoft deal (which will likely beget a corresponding
AOL/Netcenter deal) is one of a kind. And Internet name
registration is a global business that almost demands a
central authority. There is a business here -- a big one.