Domain Battle: Association Challenges Google’s Bid for .App

As part of its application to operate .app domains, Google would set restrictive criteria defining the industry and potentially limiting competition, according to the Association for Competitive Technology.

The Association for Competitive Technology is objecting to Google’s amended application to operate the top-level domain .app.

In a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) made public last week, ACT President Jonathan Zuck stated that Google’s application would allow it to set criteria defining who an app developer is, which app developers would be allowed to register domain names, what apps they could sell, and what services they could use to support their apps. The proposed eligibility criteria would “stifle innovation, consumer choice, and competition,” Zuck wrote. ACT represents more than 5,000 app developers and information technology firms.

Last year Google applied for 101 of 1,900 available gTLDs, or generic top-level domains, including .search, .blog, .cloud, and .app, according to CNET. In its original aplication, Google stated it would restrict these terms to use with Google products, but in April, the company submitted amendments to ICANN stating it would open the domains form more wide-spread use.

“We intend for .app to be a TLD dedicated to application developers,” the letter stated. “The term ‘app’ is used in a variety of contexts, including mobile applications, browser-based applications, and even desktop applications. We intend for the .app TLD to be restricted for use by relevant developer communities, but to be inclusive of the full range of application development communities and not to restrict registration to developers on a particular platform.”

But Zuck claimed that Google intends to use eligibility criteria to promote its own goods and services.

“Google is poised to use its position of authority to gain an advantage over the services provided to developers and consumers,” he wrote. “This is not just a speculative worry; in the past, Google has used its supposedly open platform, Android, to gain competitive advantage at the expense of app developers.”

Zuck pushed for wider eligibility requirements.

“An .app gTLD should provide consumers with apps or content relevant to apps and allow developers a reliable space to promote their products,” Zuck wrote. “Innovation in the industry means apps appear in new places every day. … Any eligibility criteria must therefore be broad enough to allow for further innovation within the industry.”

Associations in other industries are mounting similar challenges to bids by big players like Google and Amazon to gain exclusive ownership of potentially popular gTLDs. Earlier this year, several publishing industry associations and corporations filed comments with ICANN objecting to Amazon’s application to purchase the domains .book and .author.



Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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