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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Is Google Developing a Domain Name Killer?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

Throughout the years there have been a  number of  "domain name killer" applications come across my desk or teletype machine. I wanted to pass on a recent post I came across about the latest doom and gloom report on domain names. 

There is an interesting post by Simon Johnson posted on his website The title of the article is  "New Catastrophic Threat to Domains and new gTLDs."  The premise of the article is an unofficial mention from an unofficial Google Blog talking about a new “Google Experiment” which hides the URL in search results.

What could that proposed (experimental) Google browser feature have in consequence for the long term viability of domain names? Some would think that the result could be catastrophic? Especially if additonal browsers move towards the same trend of hiding the URL (domain name) in the search result. Now, do you think this URL blocking feature will get much traction or ever have any widespread usage?  If you ask me I don't think it's very likely.

Think of  a world without numbered houses, apartments or mailboxes? Without physical addresses? How would that work out? 

That's an Internet without domain names.

I"ve written about the integral place of domain names in society before- however this is a good opportunity for me to emphasize some of these points again.

Domain names have everything to do with the Internet. They are identifiers. They are Internet addresses. Just as physical addresses are such in real life. Domain names are critical to our ability to navigate the Internet. Domain names represent the intersection of the real world and the Internet.

Domain names are of course just names. Just as we all use our own personal/legal  names and the names of others (how would the world function without people having legal names?) Domain names represent our connection to the Internet and places on the Internet and everything on it.

There are several prevailing currents swirling around the domain name industry that will assure that this potential Google "URL hiding feature" would end up being nothing more than a cute little trick or fad that may or may not be included in some browsers. (and may even end up helping with the growth and usage of domain names).

First of all, there is a very good chance that a URL hiding feature in the search results could be a boon for domain names. If the domain names are hidden in the search results-then users would have that much more motivation/incentive to learn, know and record (maybe an app to save them) so the domain names/sites could be accessed immediately when needed. Think of saving phone numbers or email addresses in your smart phone or address book. We could get to that point with domain names. But you will still need the names. Now that everyone has everyone elses phone number in their address book did that eliminate the usage of phone numbers? Of course not.

With the impending launch of upwards of 1000 new gTLD domain name extensions-we are about to see a massive explosion in domain name registration and usage. I have predicted on previous blog posts that we are likely to see the number of current domain name registrations which are 250 million- to easily jump by a multiple of 10 in 2 or 3 years. That would be 2.5 billion registered names in a few short years.  Suffice it to say that we are going to see explosive growth in domain name registrations in the coming few years. By consumers. By companies. By Industries. By governments. This is just going to happen.

Now I have to mention that with the impending launch of upwards of 1000 new gTLDs- Google recently applied for the ability to administrate over 100 of those domain name extensions through an entity called Charleston Road Registry Inc. Google paid almost 20 million dollars in application fees for the right to potentially run these registries.  Google stands to make billions of dollars in profits  from running these new domain name registries and they stand to develop countless applications for the new gTLDs. What is the chance that they would send their own cash cow (the  new gTLDs)  out to pasture and block the domain name results in their browser? That's not likely to happen.

Also, I should remind you that Google is the company that also recently proposed to offer dotless domain names with the .search top level extension that they have applied for.  That project was shot down in a "New York minute" by ICANN (the Internet overseer) as the Google proposal was found to be very risky and unsecure to the domain name infrastructure. My point is that Google clearly experiments in alot of areas. Not all of them fruitful.

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