Website domain names have jumped in value over the last year, according to figures, which suggest the internet is flourishing while other areas of the economy struggle.
According to Sedo, an auction company that sells internet domain names, the average price has increased from £1,282 a year ago to £1,757.
Some domain names sold far this year have fetched eye-watering sums, as companies and individuals pour money back into the internet, in an echo of the frenzy that led to the dot.com boom of 1999.
Toys.com was sold for $5.1 million (£3.11 million) in March to the retailer Toys R Us, while Fly.com went for $1.76 million.
Toys.com has become the fourth most expensive domain name in history, according to the Domain Name Journal, a trade magazine.
Domain names are the addresses that every website needs to have a presence on the internet. It costs about £10 to register a new domain name and the owner of the address has to pay an annual registration fee to keep ownership of that name.
However, many companies and investors like to get their hands on addresses that have already been registered. And for that they have to turn to an auction house.
Nora Nanayakkara, director of Business Development at Sedo, said the internet was becoming increasingly valuable because of the recession.
"With the credit crunch many customers are looking to save money and are turning to the internet and price comparison sites. Buy buying up domain names – especially catchy names – companies are trying to garner the audience online that they have lost on the high street," she said.
Many of the buyers of domain names are investors, with no intention of using the name to set up a website. They purely own the names in the hope of selling them on later for a profit.
"Domain names have fared very well, compared with asset classes, especially property. They are a good investment for some people," Ms Nanayakkara added.
The most expensive domain name in history was Sex.com, which was sold for between $11 and $14 million, according to different and conflicting reports, in 2006.
The address was subject to a long-running legal dispute and is now owned by a company called Escom.
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