360.com is likely to act as a platform to unify Qihoo fragmented product portfolio
Qihoo 360 has acquired what could be the most expensive domain name. The Chinese Internet security company has paid a staggering $17 million to buy domain name 360.com. Before that, the biggest known purchase of a Web domain was when the U.S.-based Clover Holdings bought sex.com for $14 million in 2010. Registration data show that the ownership of the domain was transferred from the telecom carrier Vodafone to Qihoo on Wednesday, February 4.
Qihoo spent a huge fortune
Though Qihoo did not officially confirm the report, sources familiar with the matter told China Daily that the company had spent “a huge fortune,” big enough to buy a number of popular domains. It’s pretty difficult to track big-ticket domain purchases because many of the deals are not made public. Last year, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi spent $3.6 million to buy the Mi.com domain.
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It’s still unclear how the Internet security company plans to use the domain name. It is most likely to act as a platform to unify Qihoo’s fragmented product portfolio. Currently, visitors to 360.com are redirected to Qihoo’s search engine site Haosou.com. A quick look at the company’s original search site so.com also redirects to Haosou.com. Originally, the company was offering its security software products under the Qihoo.com domain. But a visit to Qihoo.com is also automatically directed to Haosou.com.
Qihoo wants to create a single brand image
In addition, Qihoo has formed a joint venture with Coolpad to manufacture smartphones. Analysys International analyst Tian Zheng says that security will be the key selling point of Qihoo-branded smartphones. Though Haosou.com currently serves as the company’s unified Web address, it could be replaced by 360.com. A business won’t spend $17 million on a domain that simply directs users to another Website. 360.com is easy to remember, so creating a single brand image around this domain would be a smart move, especially in China.
Qihoo shares rose 0.77% to close at $61.20 on Thursday.