Friday, February 27, 2015

Google Pays $25 Million for ‘.app’ Domain

Google, with a $25 million bid, beat Amazon and others to control the top-level web domain ending “.app”.

The company won an auction Wednesday on ICANN, the nonprofit that oversees the Internet. The $25 million sum is the most paid ever in an ICANN auction, according to a spokesperson.


  1. ICANN is a regulatory body. Why should they be paid for, and get to keep the payment for, the domain extensions that they delegate? They have a budget to administer the domain name space and are compensated for it. For example, they receive a few cents for every .com registered by anyone in the world, adding up to significant money for simply administering rules.

    If creating "app"' is worth a lot of money, why is that money going to ICANN? I mean, it is a committee charged with a fiduciary duty to orderly manage top level domains (prevent duplication,delegate - decide who will manage a given top level domain, ensure that the manager is fiscally responsible and capable, etc) It does not own the domain name space (all possible top level domains). It is a fiduciary appointed to manage a resource requiring coordination to work.

    If the USG wanted to grant ownership of domains names to a company for them to auction off the good ones for millions of dollars, it could have simply held an auction for private companies to bid to own all domains (at the top level) so the government could get the majority of the value for the taxpayers and the bidding company getting a fraction of what ICANN now gets. The bid to administer and award use of ".app" would have been millions of dollars to the taxpayers and the payment by google would have gone mostly to the taxpayers of this nation.

  2. The entire .US namespace was managed by volunteers for 20 years. Berkeley students managed .CA.US and Princeton students managed .NJ.US. There was zero compensation and the job was so trivial that no one lost money running it.

    In the early days the Commerce Department awarded a contract to Network Solutions to manage .COM, .NET and .ORG for a fixed annual payment. Domains were free to the applicant. When things took off, Network Solutions went back to Commerce and said no one envisioned the millions of registrations we have to process and we need more money. Commerce modified the contract and gave them the right to charge $100 per two year registration - one of the biggest givaways in human history. Network Solutions soon went public making the equity owners rich. Someone noticed they were charging $100 for what was essentially a database entry, each and every one at about $99.99 profit per item. Commerce modified the price to $70 per two year registration out of embarrassment.

    Verisign (present Network Solutions) now gets about $7 per domain, but Commerce gives them an increase every few years although computing power and bandwidth get cheaper every day. Think of it, for years they got $35-50 for something that is profitably sold for $7 today. What a margin.

    The interesting part. The Internet was designed ti have no central authority. The "nameservers" your computer uses to "resolve" names can be changed at whim. Everyone ships unix, IOS and Windows computers with a list of the nameservers run by Commerce - or uses something called DHCP to get whatever nameservers their ISP (internet connection) specifies, but it does not have to be that way. Some freedom minded people could create alternate nameservers - with a copy of the existing data (it has to be public to work) plus and additional names outside of the control of Commerce or anyone else.