Michael Kovatch was the proud owner of the iphone.com domain name. And surprisingly enough, he never purchased the domain when he became suspicious of Apple’s business moves. It was never a ploy to rake in millions of dollars by a multi-billion dollar corporation because he had a highly sought after domain. Instead, Michael originally bought the name all the way back in 1995 in an attempt to start his own Internet phone company. He saw the Internet getting huge and envisioned a day where people would be able to make phone calls over their Internet connections. Now, almost 15 years later, his dream has kind of come to reality. Instead of having a phone available to us on the Internet, we now have the Internet available to us on our phones.
Apple contacted Michael a full six months after they had announced the iPhone. By that time, thousands of domains were already bought up to try and attract traffic from the project, but the one that really mattered was the one Michael owned. Instead of purchasing the domain before they announced the would-be huge phenomenon, they waited until after the fact to try and put it on the web. And they quite literally paid the price. It is unsure exactly how much money Michael got but it is known that it is at least a seven-figure number and that Michael is a guaranteed millionaire now.
Michael changed the servers for the site over to Apple as well as the DNS. The domain is now entirely in Apple’s control and the only remnants of Michael’s ownership is that the domain is still listed under his account name at Domains by Proxy. But, in a few weeks, Apple will transfer the domain over to themselves and Michael will no longer have anything to do with it.
It’s quite sad though really. Michael registered plenty of domains at the time including golf.net, teeshirt.com, and noc.net. Surely they pulled him in a little cash as well. But it can probably be said that Michael purchased those other domains with the intent to sell them later on. But, iphone.com was just one of those things that no one could have seen coming. A lot of things had to fall into place just right for Michael to be the success story that he is today. It is in ways a little sad that Michael’s Internet startup company never made it anywhere. He saw future in the domain and the project but unfortunately for him, it never went anywhere. Instead, unbeknown to him at the time, the domain he was purchasing would now be tied to one of the biggest cultural phenomenon’s we’ve ever seen. Everyone seems to have an iPhone these days and all of that happened without Michael. He got lucky. In fact, he got VERY lucky with what went down. But now the domain is in its proper place and will serve a better purpose than Michael’s Internet business.
From Michael’s humble beginnings after starting a small ISP in 1993, he knew the future of the web. It didn’t take much guesswork to see that all of our services would one day be integrated but by picking an arbitrary letter and sticking it in front of the word phone, he struck a goldmine. His other ventures may not have panned out exactly the way he’d planned but now he’s a millionaire, and who can complain at that?