Fancy a .dev domain? They were $12,500 a pop from Google. Now, $1,000. Soon, $17.50. And you may want one
Meanwhile, .gay comes out of the commercial closet
Google has launched a new internet extension specifically for developers but if you want to get a good name, you're going to have to pay for it.
The .dev top-level domain already has some big names drummed up to give it some credibility, including GitHub, Slack, CloudFlare and Salesforce. And the company has started a "Dutch auction" where it charges lower and lower fees each day for a week for those that want a .dev address.
At launch, this week, you could get any available .dev domain for a mere $12,500 – something that plenty of people pointed out was ridiculous. Today, Thursday, you can "pre-order" one for just over $1,000 (with an annual $17.50 renewal). If you're willing to wait until Sunday, and if your preferred name is still available, you can get it for just $17.50 a year.
The big question of course is: why bother?
And to be fair to Google, it has actually come up with a compelling reason: in-built security. The .dev TLD is included on the HSTS preload list, and HTTPS required for all connections to .dev websites, removing the need for individual HSTS registration or configuration.
That is a pretty compelling advantage over other domains if you are indeed looking for a new online space for a project or similar. Plus the name ".dev" is somewhat appealing if you are in the developer space. It's certainly easy to recall and it marks the website for what it is.
No one is going to shift their main corporate site to a .dev domain but it could be a great spot to highlight ongoing work or pull in community interest. TensorFlow has gone for tfhub.dev; NodeJS is at nodejs.dev; and so on.
Google has actually been sitting on the .dev top-level domain since 2015 when it did a deal with Amazon to swap ownership of .book and .talk in return for .dev and .drive. Both companies had put in dozens of applications for new gTLDs, paying $185,000 a piece for the pleasure.
Google then started slowly warning others about an impending launch of .dev domains on the public internet in 2017 by making a change to Chromium that required all domains ending in .dev (as well as .foo) to use HTTPS via a HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) header. The result was lots of internal-only .dev domains returning error messages and, Google hoped, raised awareness in the developer community that now was the time to get off .dev domains.
Well, just over a year later and it has launched. If you are currently running a .dev internal site, it's time to move. Or possibly purchase it for good.
In related domain news, the long fight over .gay has finally been resolved with Top Level Design based in Portland, Oregon taking control over the extension after two other companies withdrew, presumably after a private auction. Top Level Design already runs a number of internet extensions including .design, .wiki and .ink.
The .gay extension has been controversial – but not for the reason you may think. Back in 2014, a company called dotgay applied for .gay to be a "community" top-level domain, which meant it would be run in a different way to commercial interests but also get priority over such bidders. That organization gained the support of hundreds of gay organizations but ended up in a bureaucratic nightmare with DNS overseer ICANN.
Its community bid was rejected by a third party under dubious circumstances, causing dotgay to appeal, and appeal again, and appeal again. And again. The issue even drew in ICANN's Ombudsman who used his last ruling to tell the organization to give .gay to dotgay for chrissake.
But ICANN, which prides itself in never being wrong despite any evidence to the contrary, refused to budge and it was released to commercial entities with deeper pockets to sort out. ®
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