Google appears eager to let other organizations use certain top-level domains that it wants to acquire and manage.
Last June, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers (ICANN) revealed which companies and organizations had applied for their own generic top-level domains (gTLDs). The effort is part of a move to foster competition on the Internet by allowing companies to use a greater variety of TLDs beyond just .com.
Google applied for 101 of the 1,900 available gTLDs, looking to score such obvious ones as .google, .chrome, .gmail, .goog, and .youtube. But along with those gTLDs were ones that could be used by any organization, including .search, .app, .blog, and .cloud.
In a letter sent to ICANN last Thursday, Google Chief Information Officer Ben Fried said the organization should allow closed generic string applications to proceed (PDF). The company believes that an "unfettered process is paramount in opening up the domain name space and increasing innovation in a market that has always been, effectively, stagnant."
Google also clearly stated that it would expand the use of certain gTLDs beyond its own products:
After careful analysis, Google has identified four of our current single registrant applications that we will revise: .app, .blog, .cloud and .search. These terms have been identified by governments (via Early Warning) and others within the community as being potentially valuable and useful to industry as a whole. We also believe 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.
What is Google's strategy here? As CNET's Paul Sloan commented in a story last June, the company may be itching to enter the domain registrar business. If successful, it could snag some of the market held by such major players as Go Daddy, which took in sales of $1.4 billion in 2011.
Google could also give away the gTLDs for free. Though the company wouldn't make a direct profit that way, the move would lead to yet more Web sites hopping onto the Internet. Those are sites that could potentially receive Google ads and run Google apps, opening up an even larger market for the search giant.