Friday, June 30, 2017

.SEARCH new gTLD coming...from Google

Charleston Road Registry, the legal entity belonging to Google in charge to create/launch its TLDs, has three extensions coming to the market:
  1. The .SEARCH new gTLD;
  2. .MAP
  3. .PHD
(Amazon also applied for .MAP and .SEARCH but applications were withdrawn in the end).


Google is about "search": isn't it?
This domain name extension comes late in the ICANN new gTLD program and there is a reason for this but what matters is what use is Google to have of ".search" domain names.

What the application says
Extracted from the application submitted to the ICANN:
The mission of the proposed gTLD, .search, is to provide a domain name space that makes it easier for Internet users to locate and make use of the search functionality of their choice. The proposed gTLD will open possibilities for new, more convenient ways for Internet users to navigate to the services they like and use.
Most of the time, the purpose of the extension is explained in question 18 A from the application ("Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD") but it is in the following question (18 B) of that Google explains in one line how ".search" domains will be used:
The goal of the proposed gTLD is to provide a space dedicated to Internet search offerings, and to make it easier for users to access the search functionality of their choice. The proposed gTLD will signal to the general population of Internet users that .search websites are indeed websites that offer search functionality, and adhere to basic technical standards.
Shoot in the feet?
When you are the number one search engine worldwide, do you want to offer a tool to incite others to start building search engines? I seriously doubt it and maybe this sentences extracted from the application gives more info about the real use ".search" registrants will be able to have of their domain name:
Charleston Road Registry plans to develop and publish eligibility criteria for all registrants in the proposed gTLD and will work with its registrars to execute the eligibility verification process. This process will imbue additional meaning to all second-level domains in the gTLD and enhance the gTLD’s reputation by establishing an authoritative community of websites that offer search functionality. When Internet users visit a website in the proposed gTLD environment, they will be able to reliably expect services relevant to the proposed gTLD.
Will this be a restriction? It is a little unclear to me but
Innovation
Again, some sentences are unclear but innovation seems to be around the corner:
The .search gTLD will provide a new mechanism whereby websites with search functionality can enact second-level domains that offer search-related services. This signification is not currently available in the gTLD space.

...it provides a simple technical standard describing how users and other software can interact with search functionality within the TLD.

Even more importantly, a consistent query interface across all search websites in the TLD makes it easier for third-party developers to create new and innovative services that will allow users to interact with search functionality in new and creative ways.
Trademarks
Charleston Road Registry will also develop policies to limit registrations within the domain to the names that registrants commonly use in trade related to their provision of search-related services, possibly including restricting registrations to exact matches of trademarks.
Technical requirements
Here we are, it appears that registering a ".search" domain name will not be as simple as registering a ".club":
Charleston Road Registry will implement a validation service to verify compliance with these technical requirements.
Check 18.b.iv. Registration Policies from the application "TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTRATION WITHIN THE .SEARCH GTLD" for details.

Interesting too:
Supplying Google account information will be optional for registrants.
I understand from this sentence that it will be possible to connect a ".search" domain names to Google' services.

(My) conclusion
I am a fan of Google's products and I use them everyday. I like this last idea to be able to supply my Google account information to a ".search" domain name because it will probably help one develop his business: few know much about coding so if connecting a Google account to a ".search" domain can save time developing a search engine, it adds credibility to this Registry's project. I don't think Google is selling ".search" domains for money and even if the application does not say it explicitly, the ".search" Registry looks like it is a restricted one so I expect content to be found on ".search" websites...not to be crap. A candidate to the Verified Top-Level Domains (vTLD) Consortium maybe?

Google.search coming? Probably...but I don't expect Google.com to change to Google.search :-)

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