Google has announced its first foray into the domain name registrar business with Google Domains.
The company tells me that the upcoming service will allow customers to buy or transfer domains for $12 a year.
Privacy protection, up to 100 email addresses and up to 100 subdomains — things existing leading registrars charge extra for — will be included at no additional cost.
Right now, the service is in an invitation-only beta. The first beta users are not expected to get access for a couple of weeks and the beta will likely last a couple of months.
Google says it wants to make domain registration a “simple and transparent experience”.
It’s not entirely clear which TLDs will be supported at first — .com, .net and .eu seem to be three of them — but the company plans to support “many” new gTLDs in future.
The service is unfinished, according to the company, but beta users will be able to buy and transfer domain names.
They’ll also be able to use web site creation tools supplied by the likes of Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and Shopify, which will carry an additional cost.
The $12 a year fee is comparable to market-leader Go Daddy’s annual rate for a .com, but Go Daddy charges about $8 extra per year for privacy and about $5 a month for email.
Google joins the likes of Minds + Machines and Uniregistry as new gTLD registries that have made the move into the registrar side of the business, hoping to bring a fresh approach to the market.
Google has actually been accredited by ICANN as a registrar for years — over a decade if memory serves — but to date has never used its accreditation to sell domains.
With its Google Apps service, the company refers domain buyers to Go Daddy and eNom. While there’s no confirmation from Google yet, I suspect those relationships may be in jeopardy in future.