Watch out, GoDaddy. Google is making moves on your turf.
It looks like the search giant is getting into the domain registrar business; Google has a "beta" site available at domains.google.com.
The service is invite-only for now, but it looks like it will provide a bevy of features typically found on registrars such as GoDaddy, Namecheap and Hover.
Google Domains boasts free private registrations, 10 million resolutions per year on Google's DNS servers, branded email that forwards to an existing mail account (not to be confused with Google Apps domain support) and domain forwarding. Google says it will support a variety of different gTLDs (generic top level domains), including offerings such as .photography and .guru that are rolling out over the next few months.
Google will also offer easy-access to additional site-building services from Squarespace, Shopify, Wix and Weebly for an additional fee for users that want an all-in-one approach to building out a website.
Google Domains isn't Google's first foray into the domain space. Longtime users may remember that Google previously offered the ability to purchase a domain through eNom or GoDaddy. But this time, it appears Google will actually be the registrar.
The company will even offer phone support.
Domain registration is a heavily commoditized market. Most registrars are about the same price ($10 to $12 for a .com domain). If Google is charging $12 a year including private registration, that's about the same as what Namecheap charges If Google is charging $12 a year including private registration, that's about the same as what Namecheap charges, with its Whois Guard service as an add-on.
That said, the domain market is about to get a lot more interesting as a new wave of TLDs rolls out this year and next year. There are already significant differences in pricing for certain TLDs.
Across three different registrars (including two owned by the same parent company), the pricing gamut ran from $24.99 to $39.99 to register a .wtf domain when that TLD becomes available in August.
Google definitely has the revenue to undercut competitors by a significant degree, much as GoDaddy did in the mid 2000s. The search giant already offers a variety of developer-facing web services, similar (though less popular, perhaps) to Amazon Web Services. If the company is willing to make the right investments into more commoditized hosting services for "regular" users, it certainly has what it takes to take on incumbents such as GoDaddy.
Plus, if Google does want to get active in the domain business, it has a significant advantage over every other player in the ecosystem: Control of the search results on Google.com.
Google Domains is in invite-only mode right now.