As you've probably heard by now, the Internet is on the brink of a radical expansion. Common website suffixes such as .com and .edu will soon be joined by hundreds of new top-level domain names: .camera, .sexy, .fail, and .guru, to name a few. Each additional domain is uncharted territory—and now Google has signaled that it wants to be a leader in helping to settle it.
Google quietly announced Monday that it had begun testing a new service, Google Domains, that will let people register for domains. Users with access to the invite-only beta will be able to buy or transfer standard domains like .com for $12 a year. Private registration, which protects personal details like name, address, and other contact information, will not carry an additional charge, and each domain will come with up to 100 custom email aliases (i.e. you@your_company.com).
When it comes to untested domains like .guru, the details on Google's service are fuzzier. Joe Osborne, a spokesman for Google, said that pricing has yet to be determined for new top-level domains. That is at least in part because some of the new domains will be owned by Google while others will be licensed out by other registrars. Google has not made public a list of the new domain names it will offer.
The push into domain registration is being framed by Google as part of a larger effort to help small businesses beef up their online operations and navigate the Web. Two weeks ago, the company launched Google My Business, a collection of free resources geared to small-business owners. PayPal also rolled out a similar toolkit for small-business owners, PassPort, earlier this month.
Google's domain rates are roughly comparable with those of other major registrars, such as GoDaddy and Namecheap. That said, features like private registration and domain-specific email that are built into Google Domains can quickly add up in surcharges on other sites; privacy protection starts at $7.99 for a .com domain on GoDaddy and email at $3.99 per month.
Google is probably also banking on its brand recognition and reliability to give it an edge on GoDaddy—a champion of sleaze and gross advertising—which filed for an IPO in early June. Mike McLaughlin, a senior vice president at GoDaddy, told TheStreet that Google remains a "valuable partner of ours." But suffice it to say that the company might feel differently about Google's foray into domains when its offering finally hits the market.