While IANA the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, an organization run by ICANN is the listed registrant for 23 of the 26 single letter .com domain names in existence, there are three that are owned by public companies, they are:
q.com – Qwest Communications International Inc
x.com – PayPal Inc.
z.com – Nissan North America, Inc
Created On: 1997-12-19
Last Updated On: 2009-05-18
Expiration Date: 2014-12-18
X.com is the only single letter .com being used for it’s own purpose, the Paypal Developer X Network. Q.com re-directs to Qwest.com, but I believe I have seen email addresses @q.com as well which is an interesting way to use the single letter domain. The Nissan owns Z.com does not resolve or redirect anywhere. I assume they wanted Z.com because of their Z-series cars.
The rarity of single letter .coms and fact that only three of them are owned by public entities leaves many questions: How did these companies get these single letter .coms? What did they pay for them? and of course – How will IANA go about assigning the remaining 23? and when? I can answer the first question with help from wikipedia:
On December 1, 1993, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) explicitly reserved the remaining single-letter and single-digit domain names. The few domains that were already assigned were grandfathered in and continued to exist.
Domain 1993 Owner Current Owner
i.net INet Solutions Ltd Future Media Architects
q.com JG Qwest
q.net Privately owned Privately owned
x.com Weinstein & DePaolis PayPal
x.org The Open Group X.Org Foundation
z.com HomePage.com Nissan Motors
As for the other questions many have about how IANA and VeriSign will go about allocating the remaining single letter domains, there is a lot of speculation about if and when it will ever happen. Last year, VeriSign requested and then withdrew its request to ICANN to allow it to release one and two character .net domain names. This article by Andrew at DomainNameWire.com gives good insight as to why that idea was squashed and how long it may be before single letter and number .coms are released. I also read a good article about the single letter .com allocation on DomainIncite.com last year but can’t seem to find that article to share.