Of all the get-rich-quick schemes, nothing seemed as easy as the windfall enjoyed by domain squatters in the early days of the internet.

Those who rushed out and hoovered up simple domain names in the hope of selling them to businesses for hugely inflated prices looked like geniuses if they pulled it off — and many did. The private sale of Casino.com netted A$7 million ($7.5m) in 2003, PrivateJet.com sold for A$38m in 2012 and LasVegas.com reportedly sold for a whopping A$115m.

But the internet is an overcrowded place these days and all the good land is taken, right?

Well, some people think we might have a second wave of domain squatting, or domain flipping, thanks to the rise of the emoji language — the little characters that have become increasingly popular in texting language.


As an investor, it's probably not worth the punt, but at least one investor with experience in this area thinks it makes sense.

"To me, this is truly new," domain name investor Page Howe told Gizmodo.

He calls emojis "the world language" and thinks there's big potential in bagging some potentially popular emoji domains. And if anyone would know, it's him.

Back in 2007 he famously sold seniors.com for A$2.3m after buying it for A$128,000. A few months later he sold Guy.com for A$1.28m after only owning it for about a month.

"From a marketing perspective, there's just so much more you can convey in feelings as opposed to refinanceyourmorgage.com," he said.

At least one company is working to make emoji domains a reality and it certainly practices what it preaches.

The website is [grinning face with smiling eyes].to. That's it. Just the well-known grinning emoji, or xn--f28h.to.

The company's website shows the price of all available emoji domain names grouped into categories such as food, activity, objects and places — and some are on offer for quite cheap.


While the "premium" emoji domains offered by the company will set you back about A$3000, others can cost as little as A$50.

The emoji domain names end in '.to' because top level domains don't support the characters. Photo / Supplied
The emoji domain names end in '.to' because top level domains don't support the characters. Photo / Supplied

The domains end in ".to" because few top level domains, or TLDs, which are at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the internet, support the emoji language. That means you can't buy an emoji domain with ".com" or '.com.au'.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — the governing body for top level domains — does not support emoji characters in domain addresses.

For this reason, selling these emoji.to domains for top dollar feels more like an opportunistic scam than anything else, but in the era of prolific cryptocurrencies, who is to say what makes for a wise investment.

The company's website displays hundreds of emoji links which it claims are already taken but when you click on them, many take you to an empty page. However others click through to actual websites for things like a personal designer or a mechanic company in Illinois which has bought the spanner emoji domain.

For some time to come, there is likely to be support issues among browsers however. HTML5 supports emoji and so does Apple's Safari browser — emoji URLs look like emoji — but Chrome and Firefox only display the punycode.

Even with smartphones it's not always easy to have access to an emoji keyboard. However if you're using a Mac you can hit Command-Control-Space to bring up the emoji selection box while on Windows 10, look for the Touch Keyboard icon in the bottom right of your screen.

There are other obstacles such as the fact there is not one universal set of emoji characters as Google, Apple and others have created their own. Having said that, if companies like Chevy are sending out a press release made up entirely of emojis and a London-based language translation company is offering a job in emoji translation, domain names using the characters don't seem that far-fetched.

It remains to be seen if the internet truly adopts emoji domain names, but if so there is still plenty of time to maybe become the Page Howe of the emoji domain name gold rush.