In what could be considered a bold move, Google has written to ICANN requesting to change the status of its applications for .search, .app, .blog and .cloud to ‘open’, which will enable these gTLDs to be used by other entities, such as app developers and website owners.
Google Vice President and Chief Information Officer Ben Fried wrote to ICANN noting that these terms have been “identified by governments… and others within the community as being potentially valuable and useful to the industry as a whole”, and that “for each of these terms we can create a strong set of user experiences and expectations without restricting the string to use with Google products”.
Google accounted for approximately 100 of the 1,900 applications received by ICANN when the first phase of the gTLD registration process was opened in 2012. These included obvious references to Google brands and products such as .google, .chrome, .android and .gmail. In addition, Google and several other applicants applied for the right for gTLDs with very generic terms such as .blog, .show, .earth, .book and .car.
It is currently unclear how such generic domain names will be handled by ICANN, although it was recently announced that ICANN will start recommending the first new gTLDs for delegation around 23rd April.
Companies with the right to manage the new gTLDs do not have to open them up to the public, so ‘closed generics’ such as .art and .music (which have received applications from several companies) are currently the subject of debate.