LONDON – How about a rerun or a revival for Digital.com? A firm in the U.K. entitled Quality Nonsense purchased the digital.com domain and hopes to redevelop it. Or not. As they say in their website:
We bought the domain to develop, rather than to speculate, and have declined several substantial offers. However, serious offers will receive suitable consideration.
The domain was part of HP, which purchased Digital Equipment Corporation and shut down the brand. Quality Nonsense has put up a shingle website, using a Mad Men era Flickr image.
The Digital shutdown was a waste of a great corporate legacy. Not only did Digital have a great history of innovation known to older technology pioneers, early Internet adopters in the 1990s appreciated the brand for its Altavista search engine, which Google clearly aped. Even today, I find myself missing some of the search features of Altavista, which pioneered a sort of generic search that showed no favorites. It also allowed for the searching of images and audio files.
Today, the altavista.com website redirects to Yahoo. However, because Altavisita was originally a subdomain of digital, if you go to altavista.digital.com you necessarily fold back to digital.com, as that’s the way the website works.
The website mentions the back story:
In 2014, HP put the name up for auction again, receiving rather more interest this time around. The renewed attempts to sell the domain were perhaps connected with their October 2014 announcement that HP will split into two companies by the end of 2015: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which will focus on servers, software and cloud technology; and HP Inc., focused on the legacy computers and printers business.
The Digital brand would have been useful for HP as it split itself apart after its disastrous foray into ripoff ink cartridges and cheap printers. Now, it basically has split itself into itself, and a cheap version of itself.
If a brand is not continuously used, the legacy gets muddled. Top down branding, with attempts to slap an uber-brand on top of all of a company’s down-line businesses, seems great at first, as the top brand gets exposure. It’s rather like when a commie dictator takes over a country; all the other statues must come down. What makes it not a good strategy is that each division gets muddled, and the problems of one bad unit then infect the top brand.
Quality Nonsense is led by entrepreneur Richard Kershaw, who apparently bought the domain for a few hundred thousand dollars. He operates wish.co.uk, which sells all sorts of fun experience outings, including an April Fools junket to 10 Downing Street.
Good luck with digital.com; at least the brand is going to an owner with a sense of humor and good taste. As part of the deal, he also has digital.com registered as a trademark for all sorts of things, according to a Nov. 14, 2014 registration with the USPTO.