Home / Blogs

Google's .App TLD Application Under Fire

Don't miss a thing – sign up for CircleID Weekly Wrap newsletter delivered to your inbox once a week.
Michele Neylon

I've written about "closed generic" new TLD applications several times over the last year.

I'm opposed to them, as I've said in the past and continue to say today. However I've generally been supportive of "restricted" TLDs.

The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) has serious concerns about Google's application for .app and want ICANN's board of directors to treat as a "closed generic".

If you recall, their original application was 100% closed. But a couple of months back Google modified their application for .app, as well as their submissions for both .search and .blog. At the time I thought that their modified proposals were positive, though I did have some doubts, due to the ambiguity of some parts of their proposals.

Jonathan Zuck's letter to ICANN dates from June 13th, but was only made public yesterday. In it Zuck outlines several concerns with the .app application:

Google's amended application is problematic because it allows Google alone to set eligibility criteria by defining app developers and the Industry as a whole

Don't forget, Google has built a business around "apps", both their online office suite of services, as well as their Android smartphones and operating system:

Given that Google is a competitor in the Industry, its control over setting eligibility criteria and defining "app developer" is troubling.

Google might try to argue that it won't abuse its position, but if they're the gatekeeper, will they treat their competitors, such as Apple, in the same way they treat other app developers?

When a domain name extension is meaningful, as in the case of most generic strings, consumers will have expectations and a restricted TLD could cause confusion (emphasis added):

Since developers' primary presence is online, shutting large portions of the Industry out of .APP would interfere with the prosperity of the community. Developers who are not chosen by Google to participate in will be denied the legitimacy of the .APP TLD. Consumers will also expect .APP to be all-inclusive. If .APP becomes sufficiently socialized, through marketing and search engine optimization, potential customers would not find apps that do not meet Google's criteria, resulting in less choice and customer confusion.

In my view this argument is a strong one. Consumer confusion was used as an argument against new TLDs in the past, but now that new TLDs are coming, closed generic TLDs OR restricted TLDs could actually cause it. It's no longer mere FUD.

Personally I don't have an issue with restricted TLDs, but the restrictions should not be arbitrary. For example a .bank TLD that restricts itself to financial institutions makes perfect sense to me, but no one bank should decide which other banks get to play in the namespace.

Software developers are an important part of the internet ecosystem and for those of us who work in the space, they are our clients, our partners and our suppliers. Both as a consumer of software and a vendor of services to the software industry the very idea of a large company abusing its market position concerns me, so Zuck's letter does worry me, especially when he lays out some of the threats so clearly (emphasis added):

The impact on the Industry will be severe. Most app developers rely on the services of third parties to provide functions for their apps, such as analytics, hosting, and security. Since many developers are small businesses, it is more cost efficient to contract with these third parties. Google currently owns several companies which provide such services to app developers. However, they are far from the only players in the market. There are hundreds of companies built around the app industry which provide services for app developers. As the holder of the proposed gTLD, Google has the power over potential registrants to require the use of Google services. This would allow Google an unfair competitive advantage in the third party market to provide services to app developers. It would potentially put thousands out of business when app developers are forced to switch to Google services, regardless of how well or poorly those services fit the developer's businesses.

ICANN's board of directors recently moved to "freeze" new TLD applications that it considered to fit under the banner of "closed generic". As Zuck argues, Google's application for .app should also be "frozen".

The full letter is worth a read: Zuck To Crocker / Chehade: Google's Amended Application for the .APP gTLD

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions. More blog posts from Michele Neylon can also be read here.

Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance, Top-Level Domains

 
   

Comments

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Explore Topics

Dig Deeper

Afilias

DNS Security

Sponsored by Afilias
Afilias Mobile & Web Services

Mobile Internet

Sponsored by Afilias Mobile & Web Services
Verisign

Cybersecurity

Sponsored by Verisign

Promoted Posts

Now Is the Time for .eco

.eco launches globally at 16:00 UTC on April 25, 2017, when domains will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. .eco is for businesses, non-profits and people committed to positive change for the planet. See list of registrars offering .eco more»

Boston Ivy Gets Competitive With Its TLDs, Offers Registrars New Wholesale Pricing

With a mission to make its top-level domains available to the broadest market possible, Boston Ivy has permanently reduced its registration, renewal and transfer prices for .Broker, .Forex, .Markets and .Trading. more»

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

.PRESS Supports Press Freedom Day for 3rd Consecutive Year

Leading Internet Associations Strengthen Cooperation

5 Afilias Top Level Domains Now Licensed for Sale in China

Radix Announces Largest New gTLD Sale with Casino.Online

2016 Year in Review: The Trending Keywords in .COM and .NET Domain Registrations

Global Domain Name Registrations Reach 329.3 Million, 2.3 Million Growth in Last Quarter of 2016

i2Coalition to Present Tucows CEO Elliot Noss With Internet Community Leadership Award

A Look at How the New .SPACE TLD Has Performed Over the Past 2 Years

Michele Neylon Appointed Chair Elect of i2Coalition

Neustar to be Acquired by Private Investment Group Led by Golden Gate Capital

Startup League Reports from WebSummit, Lisbon

2016 U.S. Election: An Internet Forecast

.SPACE Becomes the Choice of the First Ever Space Nation Asgardia

Afilias Chairman Jonathan Robinson Wins ICANN's 2016 Leadership Award at ICANN 57

MarkMonitor Supports Brand Holders' Efforts Regarding .Feedback Registry

Why .com is the Venture Capital Community's Power Player

The .cancerresearch TLD: Search for Cure Drives Digital Innovation

New TLD? Make Sure It's Secure

Radix Launches Startup League at TechCrunch

Celebrating One Year of .online