When names collide

Kobo is the name of an eReader and bookstore that competes with the Amazon Kindle.

Flush with a recent investment, Kobo Inc. has big plans for going global, which, as an author, I’m very happy to see.

Here’s a recent announcement regarding expansion into Australia:

But there is an issue with regards to Australia.

KOBO is the name of a web design firm there, with a web site located at www.kobo.com.au.

They are apparently getting a surge of traffic, as they noted on their home page:

Here we have a small case study on the importance of testing the world readiness of a brand name as early as possible. Granted, most upstart companies don’t have the time or money to hire international lawyers to go out and see if their brand names are available in every market. That said, an hour or two of web searching can go a long way towards avoiding conflicts in the major markets. At the very least, you should see if your domain name is available under select country codes: fr, de, cn, au, ca, etc.

And I’m not trying to pick on Kobo. This is a very common issue. Sometimes you just have to make the best of things. For example, if you visit www.nissan.com, you might think you’re going to the global auto maker’s home page. But you’re not. And Nissan seems to be doing just fine without the coveted .com domain.

Kobo (the ereader) owns both www.kobo.com and www.kobobooks.com but is using kobobooks.com as its primary address. What I suspect happened is that when Kobo decided to go global it realized that “kobo” country code domains were already taken in many markets, so it fell back on kobobooks.

I did a quick search and found that the company owns kobobooks.com.au, kobobooks.de, kobobooks.cn (and probably quite a few more). The web pages don’t exist yet but, if Kobo is successful, they will soon. So that’s the good news. Kobo Books has a path for online global expansion.

And as for the KOBO web design firm, I’d be thinking about how best to monetize all this newfound web traffic.

PS: Perhaps as the world becomes more mobile, more app-oriented, this whole domain issue will become less important. Registrars certainly don’t want to see this happen but there are many frustrated marketing execs who would love to not have to worry about acquiring domains.

 

 

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.