Google has become a registrar – a company allowed to sell Internet domain names – but said it has no current plans to sell any.
Last week, Internet overseeing organisation ICANN and technical arm IANA, quietly approved Google’s application and gave it ID number 895. It is now entitled to sell any .biz, .com, .info, .name, .net, .org and .pro domains (but not .aero, .coop, or .museum). Interestingly though, a Google spokeswoman told us it has no plans to sell any at the moment.
The reason it paid a $2,500 application fee and $6,500 to cover six top-level domains is that it “wants to get a better understanding of the domain name system [and so] increase the quality of our search results”. The email address it gives with relation to its new registrar status is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Google notes that Amazon did exactly the same thing nearly two years ago. At that time, a March 2003 article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that the online giant had become a registrar and assumed that it was about to launch a domain name selling business. It set the industry off – but we are still waiting, 47 months later.
So why become a registrar if you’re not going to sell domains? Speculation is rife.
One idea is that it has to do with Google’s AdSense for Domains business, which aims at the domain name industry. Google’s technology “understands the meaning” of domain names, the company says, and then ties it in with search terms that people type in its search engines.
Watch this space.