Reseller News

Web odyssey for the keyboard challenged

  • Greg Adams (Unknown Publication)
  • 17 May, 2007 22:00

My wife was online recently paying some bills, shopping, surfing and generally enjoying her experience. I was walking by when she asked me something about our Fly Buys account and typed into the browser: www.flybys.co.nz.

I was just about to stick my oar in and put her right, when the homepage appeared on screen.

But isn’t it flybuys.co.nz with a ‘u’? Well, yes, it is, but it’s also flybys. Those clever people at Loyalty New Zealand made sure even typos don’t stop customers reaching them. In fact, www.flybuy.co.nz also reaches the desired destination (although not, I notice, www.flyby.co.nz). Nevertheless, it got me thinking. How many tech companies cover their bases like this, especially those with names that are odd, confusing or similar to others?

I started with one of my favourites, Hewlett Packard. www.hewlettpackard.com does the job but www.hewlettpackard.co.nz is ‘parked’ presumably after someone nabbed it before HP did.

Registering domain names that closely resemble another is an old trick. It’s a practice known as ‘typosquatting’ or ‘URL hijacking’, which relies on mistakes made by internet users when inputting a website address.

Likewise www.hewletpackard.com and www.hewlettpackerd.com are parked. I guess getting all the possible permutations would have been costly, not to mention largely a waste of time. So the company’s decision to go with hp.com and hp.co.nz is understandable (and probably a relief to those of us who can’t spell).

There’s no link for www.telekom.co.nz, although www.tellecom.co.nz does work, just not to our favourite incumbent.

Vodafone has some bases covered – vodaphone.com and vodaphone.co.nz being automatically redirected. But not voderfone.com, voderfone.co.nz, voderphone.com or voderphone.co.nz … or are people just not that stupid?

TelstraClear has missed out on www.telstarclear.co.nz, which goes to the same sort of site as tellecom.co.nz – clearly this is a popular road to travel.

Compaq has been beaten to the punch by compac.com and .co.nz, as well as compak.com, which may not augur well for those who are q-adverse. Toshiba hasn’t seen the need to cover tosheba.co.nz, but Xerox has zerox.com pointing to its correct site.

Microsoft has so far spurned mikrosoft.com, but mycrosoft.com does exist, and looks like it’s trying to earn a living off the coat tails of its more illustrious near-namesake. A similar thing appears to be happening with orakle.com and oracel.com.

Yahoo has bagged yaho.com and googol.com has gone (it’s a maths site) hence the guys at the ‘Plex had to come up with arguably the most successful new word ever: google. Thankfully, they knew what they were doing and got googel.com as well (although not googal.com).

Talking of which, for subsidiary YouTube, dodgy spelling got it into hot water with the poor buggers at Universal Tube, whose utube.com site was getting millions of ‘accidental’ hits looking for the video site – and this started to cost it a pile of cash for the traffic. I see it’s still there, but with some ‘additional’ advertising opportunities to pull in some extra funds.

Of course, there is cunning software that ‘fixes’ URL typos like many of these but that seems to take all the fun out of trying.