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Google Does the Right Thing Opening Several Closed Generic TLD Applications

Michele Neylon

Over the last few months one of the areas of attention in the new TLD project has been "closed generics". I've written about this several times in the past and I've also raised the issue in as many fora as possible.

Yesterday ICANN published a letter they'd received from Google with respect to several of their new TLD applications.

Whereas Google had made it clear previously that they intended to operate domain extensions such as .blog, .cloud, .search and .app in a closed fashion or "walled garden" this is no longer the case, as outlined in their submissions on the topic of closed generics last month.

The letter, which runs to 41 pages, includes a fairly concise explanation of Google's planned changes as well as the full text of the requested changes to their applications.

So what are they planning to do? Bearing in mind that they've got competition with several of these applications, so there is no guarantee that they'll be even granted to Google.

.search is planned to be a "dotless" domain:

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.

I'm not sure how that will look, but it sounds kind of funky.

.app will be for developers of apps

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

So "app" will have the widest meaning possible, though how they'll actually "police" that isn't clear. Intent? Use?

.blog is one of the "closed generics" that bugged me the most. I blog. The string describes the content you are expecting to find on the domain. Being forced to use a specific blogging platform in order to access a .blog domain name was not how I'd like to see that extension used.

So Google's latest proposal for .blog is a lot more palatable to me:

We have two principal goals for the .blog TLD. First, users navigating to domains within the TLD should reasonably expect to reach a blog when they access a .blog domain name. Second, it should be simple and easy for .blog registrants to associate their second­level domain with their blog on the blogging platform of their choice. To this end, we are working with others in the blogging community to develop a simple set of technical standards that will allow users to automatically link their domain name to their blog at the time of registration. Registrations within the TLD will be limited to those with blogs adhering to these technical standard.

I'm not sure how this "standard" is going to look or how registrars and hosting providers are going to be able to implement it, but I like the concept.

The .cloud application is the fourth one that Google is planning to tweak:

As with .blog, our goal for .cloud is to create a clear association between .cloud names and projects hosted in cloud platforms, while simultaneously allowing registrants to more easily link domain names with the cloud offering of their choice. We are in the earlier stages of discussions with others in the cloud community, but intend to develop similar technical standards as with .blog

So with Google changing at least some of their applications to be more open and inclusive, will other new TLD applicants see the light and tweak theirs? What about Amazon? Symantec? L'Oreal?

And what about ICANN's board? Will they be able to find a way of dealing with the issue in a fair, transparent and equitable manner?

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions
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Related topics: Domain Names, ICANN, New TLDs
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Great Thomas A Gilles  –  Apr 11, 2013 8:16 AM PST

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