Kumo – A new name for Live Search?

Mary Jo Foley got a great tip last week concerning the possible Live Search rebrand we’ve talked about since this time last year. While the Codename Rome update still went ahead last September, the possible name change was put on hold.

Fast forward one year and Microsoft has failed to acquire Yahoo, and with Live Search Cashback just starting to take off its too early to call it a successful initiative. Does Microsoft want to speed things up, and would a rebrand necessarily achieve this? Kip looked at the branding of Microsoft search several times already, and what’s clear is that while marketing improvements are needed, the product itself still has a way to go, especially in terms of relevance.

While Mary Jo talks about three possible names and her research on them, one possible jumped out straight away to me: Kumo. Apparently meaning either “cloud” or “spider” in Japanese, it wasn’t the literal meaning that got my attention. The giveaway was that the registrar for Kumo.com is CSC Corporate Domains, a company Microsoft has been using increasingly over the past year to pre-register its upcoming product names. Remember that whois I linked in our first post on Windows Live FrameIt? Yes you guessed it, CSC Corporate Domains.

If you spend 20minutes researching further, you’ll see that nearly all major top level domains (TLDs) have been registered or changed owners since March 2008, including .fr, .es, .se, and .co.jp. All of them to anonymous registrants hiding behind the registrars.

The caveat I’ll insert here is that CSC Corporate Domains is used by many corporations to acquire domain names, so it could be any company for any product. However the speed and thoroughness of the acquisitions suggests its not just a small Web 2.0 startup that is looking to launch a product in this space. So if its not Microsoft that is relaunching Live Search as Kumo, then somebody else sure wants to keep their upcoming product secret. But that would be one hell of a coincidence.