Google just paid $25 million for exclusive rights to the “.app” top-level web domain.
Google decided to apply for new top-level domains (TLDs) way back in 2012, four years after ICANN, the organization that controls the world’s domain names, decided to expand the overall number of generic TLDs.
Google applied for dozens at the time, including .docs, .android, .free, .fyi, .foo, and, of course, .app.
ICANN has been gradually auctioning off the different domains since June 2014, in what can be a competitive and expensive process (Dot Tech LLC spent $6.7 million on the “.tech” domain last year, reportedly beating out Google, which also bid).
Amazon bought “.buy” for nearly $5 million and “.spot” for $2.2 million in fall 2014.
Comparatively, Google’s $25 million investment in “.app” looks pretty steep; it’s the most any company has paid in one of ICANN’s auctions so far.
Google currently lets people register for “.how,” “.soy,” and “.minna” domains one its own ICANN-accredited domain registry. It also plans to be the registry for the top-level domains “.dad,” “.here,” “.eat,” and “.new,” among others, and, presumably, “.app” soon. You can’t actually purchase domains like “cooking.how” via Google’s registry (you get directed to partner sites), but the company also has its own domain registration service, which is still in beta.
“We’ve been excited and curious about the potential for new TLDs for .soy long. We are very .app-y with .how, at a .minna-mum, they have the potential to .foo-ward internet innovation,” a Google spokesperson told Business Insider via email.
Although Google hasn’t announced specific plans for .app, the purchase could give the company a creative way to promote apps as more search shifts to mobile.
The company is taking other steps to help developers promote apps: Earlier today, the company announced that it’s going to start testing out search ads in the Google Play Store.