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Google sells .car, walks away from generic domain names

Auto-bundle emerges and search giant focuses on brands

By Kieren McCarthy, 18 May 2015

Google has sold its rights to all internet addresses ending in ".car" to a joint partnership of two other registry operators.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, confirms what many in the industry have suspected for some time: that the search giant is concentrating on its brand names and is offloading generic names, despite having applied for 101 new top-level domains, most of which were generic words.

Google was the only company that paid $185,000 for the rights to ".car" but it also lodged an objection to the three companies that applied for ".cars" - with an 's' - arguing that they were too similar to its application. It won two of three cases but lost the last one. That applicant dropped out so Google was granted full rights to ".car".

It was then that the deal with the operator of the ".xyz" registry and company behind approximately 50 other generic words - Uniregistry - was struck.

Vroom vroom

A new company called Cars Registry Limited set up by the two companies will own three automotive internet extensions: car, cars and auto. It will launch in the fourth quarter of the year, the company said.

Names under the three endings will be made available to everyone and will most likely come with a very low price based on the approach taken by both parties with their others names. .xyz is the largest new internet extensions in terms of registrations, most of it built by giving away the domains for free. Meanwhile, Uniregistry has aggressively discounted many of its domains in response to lackluster demand for new internet addresses.

Cars Registry is far from having full control of a new market in car domains however. Most of the auto industry's largest players have applied for their own internet address and are considering how to provide names underneath them.

Among those that own the rights to their brand names at the top level of the internet are: Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Datsun, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Jaguar, Jeep, Landrover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

It is likely that most car manufacturers will provide domains to their dealerships and other industry companies. Some are also said to be considering providing domains to their customers. It is possible that in the future every car will come with its own internet address.

There is also another company that has the rights to ".autos" and also plans to make names underneath it available to anyone - putting it in direct competition with car/cars/auto.

But what about Google?

While it will be interesting to see how the car industry is impacted with so many possible internet addresses, the industry is more interested to note that Google is continuing its strategy of walking away from non-brand names.

The search giant applied for 101 names, including very common names like '.eat', '.love', .'book' and '.dad'. In a blog post in 2012, the company outlined four categories of names it had applied for:

Given this expansion process, we decided to submit applications for new TLDs, which generally fall into four categories:
  • Our trademarks, like .google
  • Domains related to our core business, like .docs
  • Domains that will improve user experience, such as .youtube, which can increase the ease with which YouTube channels and genres can be identified
  • Domains we think have interesting and creative potential, such as .lol

With its deep pockets, many feared that Google was going to swamp the domain name industry with free names and so undercut and undermine everyone but established names.

However it is clear that last year the company decided to walk away from the names with "interesting and creative potential," as well as most of those that will "improve user experience," concentrating instead of its brand names and trademarks.

It has walked away from 40 domains, including several that would appear to be directly relevant to Google's business, including '.talk', '.cloud', '.store' and '.movie'.

And it struck deals with other large companies - in particular Amazon - to trade names of value that both had applied for. For example, in return for '.book' and '.talk', Google received '.dev' and '.drive' from Amazon.

It was the only applicant for 26 generic words like '.foo' and '.meme' and so has retained them - although if anyone else wants them, it is probably worth giving the company a call.

In fact, out of the 101 names it applied for, the only ones outside of its brands that Google has fought have been: map, app, search and phd. It paid the largest amount for any new internet extension - $25m - for dot-app. "Map" and "search" are pretty obviously valuable to Google. As for '.phd'? Who knows.


Google gTLD rundown

As the only registrant: (26) gle, prod, cal, soy, how, ads, mov, channel, boo, dad, new, eat, ing, meme, here, zip, guge, foo, day, fly, gbiz, rsvp, page, dclk, prof, esq

Brands: (10) Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Google, Nexus, Android, Goog, Hangout, Play, Moto (Google has since sold Motorola)

Applications it let go: (40) living, vip, talk, site, game, tour, love, cloud, show, baby, mom, lol, family, diy, film, plus, fyi, wow, fun, pet, blog, store, you, earth, buy, spot, team, tech, free, vip, dog, goo, gmbh, live, dds, med, tube, movie, srl, mba

Fought for: (4) map, app, search, phd

Did deals: (3) docs (received from Microsoft), talk (gave to Amazon), drive (received from Amazon), book (gave to Amazon), dev (received from Amazon)

The remaining 17 applications are either still in ICANN's process or ran foul of the rules. ®

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