February 1, 2005 12:55 PM PST

Google gets rights as Web site registrar

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Google has become accredited to register and sell Web addresses under the governing body of domain names.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit based in Los Angeles, has deemed Google a domain name registrar, according to the search company. However, it has no plans to sell Web addressees for now.

"Google became a domain name registrar to learn more about the Internet's domain name system," a company representative said Tuesday. "We believe this information can help us increase the quality of our search results."

With the papers, Google joins other Internet companies, including Amazon.com and America Online, to be ICANN-accredited without a storefront. Rival registrars that make a business of selling domain names are speculating that the credentials will give Google a more powerful seat at the table with ICANN, an Internet government body, or a potential business opportunity down the road.

"Most small businesses aren't wired--that's changing. Maybe 25 percent to 30 percent has access to broadband--that's changing," noted Bob Parsons, chief executive of GoDaddy.com, one of the Net's largest registrars. "All this means more domain names."

According to Google, the move points to at least one of its approaches to improving search, amid fierce competition from Yahoo, Microsoft and many others.

With accreditation, Google may be able to better control its own cadre of Web addresses, including Google.com, with the ability to set its own policies and procedures. It also may command more respect from other registrars, granting it easier access to their data on registrations. That access could give Google a better view of how the Internet is growing, according to industry executives. Still, they say, that data is available to most third parties.

"Google is a pure-play Internet company, and ICANN is an important creature in terms of Internet government," said Elliot Noss, chief of Tucows. "It likely wants to understand it better."

To gain credentials, companies must pay $10,000 for an application, along with other incidentals. The costs go up significantly to set up policies, procedures and customer service for selling domain names.

 

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