If Google is awarded the right to manage the domain registrations for .search, .app, .blog and .cloud, there is now a good chance that it won’t just use them for its own services and will open them up for non-Google properties, too. Last year, when ICANN opened up the first phase of the registration process for new generic top-level domain names, Google accounted for about 100 of the over 1,900 applications ICANN received. Among those were some that referenced Google brands and products like .google, .chrome, .android and .gmail, but Google and many of the other applicants also applied for the right to manage top-level domains with very generic terms like .blog, .show, .earth, .book and .car.
ICANN CEO Fadi Cherhade recently announced that the organization will start recommending the first new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) for delegation around April 23. Currently, however, the question of what to do about these very generic domain names like .book remains unclear.
The companies that get the right to manage the new top-level domains don’t necessarily have to open them up to the public, so these so-called “closed generics” like .art and .music (all of which Google and at least two more companies applied for) are currently the focus of a hot debate among those interested in owning and operating these new domains.
In a letter to ICANN (PDF and embedded blow), Google VP and CIO Ben Fried writes that ICANN should “allow all closed generic string applications to proceed.” In Google’s view, he writes, the new top-level domains will allow for much-needed innovation in this space. He especially notes that “for many users, domain names remain decidedly difficult to use and manage,” so chances are Google will work on lowering the barriers for registering domain names and linking them to users’ sites.
Most importantly, however, Fried also notes that there are a number of terms in its portfolio that “have been identified by governments (via Early Warning) and others within the community as being potentially valuable and useful to the industry as a whole.” Those are .app, .blog, .cloud and .search. Google says it is amending its applications for these domain names, and while it isn’t disclosing the details of these changes, the language definitely makes it sound as if Google will open them up for use outside of Google, too. “We also believe,” Fried writes, “that for each of these terms we can create a strong set of user experiences and expectations without restricting the string to use with Google products.”
So if you are a cloud-based service or an app developer, there is some hope that you – and not just Google – could soon own a .cloud or .app domain to market your products. There is, however, still a chance that somebody else could get the rights to manage these domains and another company may just decide to keep these top-level domains for itself.