Pricy 'Net names and Gates a no-go

What's new in the online world

The domain-name aftermarket -- or, if you prefer, speculation/ransom market -- eclipsed the US$100 million milestone for the first time last year, according to Zetetic, a research company. Here's a look at some of the numbers.

A total of US$111 million and change was spent on 17,974 names; the average price was US$5,582, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year's U&S$4,954. Five names went for more than US$1 million, four more than in 2005.

Which leads us to our quiz portion of this column.

The US$5 million-plus names in alphabetical order are: branson.com, cameras.com, diamond.com, sex.com and vodka.com.

The amounts paid from least to most were: US$1.5 million, US$1.6 million, US$3 million, US$7.5 million and US$12 million.

Now match 'em up. Answers below.

There has been a million-plus sale this year, as tanberg.com fetched US$1.5 million.

'Gates for president' group gives up

There will be no West Coast White House in Redmond, no Air Force One with a Windows-based navigation system, no Vice President Dilbert.

Alas, the "Bill Gates for president" bandwagon, which launched in November with such promise and fanfare - primarily because of Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams - has pitched over a cliff and called it quits.

From an e-mail alert just delivered to my inbox:

" 'Bill Gates for President' . . . We give up! We've tried . . . We really have! We wanted to evoke political debate and to a certain extent we succeeded to do just that. On the other hand, we failed miserably to draw enough attention our way. Bill Gates probably noticed and read the Web site and our arguments, but he probably didn't feel the drive needed to go for that presidential candidacy . . . We would like to thank all of you who tried to get this thing to work, and we hope we've inspired some people to think about the U.S. presidency in a way they never did before."

And so it goes.

What about Ballmer? Wouldn't he be a fun president?

By the way, I dropped an e-mail to Adams just to make sure he had heard the bad news. Here's his reply: "So much for my king-making skills!"

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