Is .AI Domain Name Extension Any Valuable For AI Startups Or Just A Marketing Ploy?

AI Domain Name Startups


Today, the “.AI” domain name is the go-to choice for AI Artificial Intelligence businesses and startups. While the registration price of the .AI TLD is higher than other domain registrations, .AI domain names are still available compared to short and highly expensive .COM domain names (some of them go for millions of dollars). 

“.AI” has acquired popularity as a domain extension for Artificial Intelligence-based tech startups and businesses. That’s because most of the good and short .COM names have been registered already by domain name investors and speculators. On the other hand, .AI domain name is still a great option for an AI startup. With the sudden boom of .AI-related companies and startups, we’ve witnessed a parallel rise in .AI domain name registrations. 


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The .AI web name extension has become so tightly linked with the world of artificial intelligence, it may look like as if it was created particularly for the AI industry, something not true at all. .However, but what you may not know is that this domain name is, in fact, a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) assigned to Anguilla, Anguilla, a small British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, and opened up for registration in 1995.

Startup Branding Firms & Domain Name Speculators Are Riding The Boom

 The .AI domain extension names are used by AI startups and/or AI experts to host their websites and therefore aim at a very niche audience comprising of investors and techies. And there is no dearth of.AI speculators as well, who think .AI domain names are the new .com in the startup world. 

Many of the speculators and branding firms think that for the price of registering a .AI domain now, they may get a great return on investment as we see a proliferation of AI companies. 

But, that may be a false assumption too. Some of the biggest AI startups like Deep Mind have a .com domain name. Even Facebook.AI redirects back to Neither do companies such as Netflix, Uber, Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, all of which are the actual leaders in artificial intelligence, not the so-called “AI startups”. In short, having a .AI name may just be a clever marketing ploy, (and probably a trick to trick investors in rare cases).

But, according to some marketing experts, the domain with .ai projects a startup’s core offering (i.e. ML/Al) and startup companies have customer attention from the very beginning. It also adds credibility and legitimacy in a subtle way which goes a long way in lead conversion.

Also, having a keyword like AI at the domain level offers an advantage and a brand recognition which is valuable to market the company and its services. In India too, we have many AI companies using .AI names.

Also Read: 7 Key Tenets Of AI Ethics To Follow

.AI Name May Also Be An Easy Trick To Make Exaggerated Claims

While startups have been flocking to register .AI domain names, there are a few things you may want to know. Having an .AI extension doesn’t mean you’re an AI company. AI extension name is open to any company or person to register and use for any purpose, such as for branding or content purposes. 

This is also the precise reason why some AI startups can easily fool you with claims of AI expertise. While there is no research which tells you whether an acclaimed AI startup is truly utilising artificial intelligence or not, there may be many branded AI startups (also using .AI domain names) who may not be using the technology at all. 

One example of an AI startup which surfaced in the media reports was SoftBank- funded startup Engineer.AI. The startup promised ‘human-assisted’ artificial-intelligence, and employees came out saying the startup inflated its technology prowess.

The startup said it utilised artificial intelligence to automate building mobile apps, but many current and former employees stated the company exaggerated its AI capabilities to attract customers and investors. WSJ reported that the startup deployed workers to pretend to do automated functions in the backend.

According to a survey report from London venture capital firm MMC, 40 per cent of European startups that had been considered as AI companies didn’t utilise artificial intelligence in reality.

In the end, MMC concluded that companies that investors assume and believe are AI companies are probably not. “In 40 % of cases, we could detect no mention of evidence of AI,” MMC head of research David Kelnar, told Forbes. The point is many of the startups which didn’t have any AI capabilities had the .AI domain name extension, which makes it a handy tool if you may want to trick people into believing you’re an AI startup.

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Vishal Chawla
Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.

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