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First Look: Google Domains

Google Domains Search BoxGoogle’s bread and butter is search and advertising. While that will likely not change for some time, Google seems to be looking for ways to converge some of its services into a kind of super offering. One such case is Google Domains; hosting, DNS, mail and registrar services all on Google’s infrastructure. For a cost. Here’s what the service currently offers and a first look at what you can expect from this invite-only offering.

Making the beginning of a domain search look just like a Google search is probably one of the most interesting things about Google’s new service. While the cost per year seems quite steep, the feature list is quite a large bag of goodies (that you’d pay extra for elsewhere). Here are some of the things included right now with Google Domains:

– Private registration (presumably limited WHOIS details)
– Branded emails (Up to 100 emails on Google Apps? For Business? – Wasn’t this free some time back?)
– Easy domain forwarding (not sure what they implement here)
– Sub-Domain options (I assume they’re DNS servers have to be used)
– DNS Tools (plus the serving of DNS records, this could be compelling)
– New domain endings (.googlelover anyone?)

And probably the most impossible feature listed – “With Google Domains, you get phone and email support (M-F, 9am to 9pm EST)”. For Google, this I would have to see and hear to believe. I’m still not sure that’s a real thing. It would be interesting to call and see if a real person is actually there.

Domain transfers look to be fairly simple, though I didn’t have a domain to actually transfer into the service. I would expect that process to follow most other registrar’s policies. What’s not clear though, if a transfer happens, how much of the outstanding registration is covered by Google?

Google Domains PricingOne interesting omission is certificate services. I would have expected Google to offer this right from the get-go considering their push to “Encrypt Everything”. Looking at the feature list, I don’t see anywhere to set up or manage SSL certificates. If the domain is owned by someone else and can be purchased, Google offers the option to pay a premium on the domain so it can (presumably) be purchased from whomever is parking it. In my search I found “rhoose.com” for $2,900 extra and “technologies.org” for $6,500 extra. I can just see all the dollar signs Google is dreaming up when crossing advertising with deals to sell parked domains. That would be a whole new world for revenue for Google.

All this naturally leads to a clear (and troubling) possible conflict of interest for Google. If they offer domain registrations, would they then give those domains preferential treatment in search results? Should Google be allowed to offer this kind of service if that’ even possible? If you looking to run a production domain, this might not be the time to jump on Google Domains – but it does offer some very compelling features. Since this is all in beta, many things could change. If you’ve used the service, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Google Domains is currently in Beta and invite-only and available to the U.S. market.