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Google U-turns on exclusive snatch of .app AND .search addys

Ad giant may have to admit there are other search engines out there

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Google has been forced to abandon its bid to grab exclusive use of the web address extensions .app, .blog, .search and .cloud - after it was warned the move was anti-competitive.

Late last year, the advertising giant applied for the four generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to internet overseer ICANN, which is charging companies to take control of new suffixes to supplement the established TLDs such as .com, .org and .uk.

A business holding, say, .news could sell domain names such as theregister.news - or potentially just keep it for itself and set up websites with snappy titles like world.news.

It is understood Google, which runs the Android app store Google Play, wanted to exclusively use .app and the three other desired gTLDs with its own services.

But governments and other groups rejected the plan, as Google admitted here [PDF].

Now, in a letter to ICANN's gTLD general manager Christine Willett dated 6 April, Google via its domain registry has amended its proposals for .app and .search in a defensive move to prevent its bid for those namespaces from being completely tossed out.

And the web titan, which also operates Blogger.com and various cloud computing services, said it will alter its application for .blog  and .cloud after holding talks with various community bods.

In its amendment to ICANN this month, Google explained:

  • .search - Our goal for .search is to provide an easily-identifiable namespace for firms that provide search functionality and to allow internet users a unique and simple mechanism to access the search functionality of their choice. Google intends to operate a redirect service on the 'dotless' .search domain (http://search/) that, combined with a simple technical standard will allow a consistent query interface across firms that provide search functionality, and will enable users to easily conduct searches with firms that provide the search functionality that they designate as their preference.
  • .app - We intend for .app to be a TLD dedicated to application developers. The term 'app' is used in a variety of contexts, including mobile applications, browser-based applications and even desktop applications. We intend for the .app TLD to be restricted for use by relevant developer communities, but to be inclusive of the full range of application development communities and not to restrict registration to developers on a particular platform.

"For Google to completely change direction tells me they are anticipating ICANN will speak out against generic extensions like .app being closed [to competitors]," Stephen Ewart, of UK-based web hosting outfit Namesco, told El Reg.

Online retail giant Amazon has also submitted applications for gTLDs including .book, .author and .read - much to the chagrin of many in the publishing industry.

The Reg asked Google to tell us more about its revised applications to ICANN, which is holding a public meeting in Beijing about the gTLD rollout, but it declined to comment. ®

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