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Four reasons Google Domains isn’t a Go Daddy killer

Kevin Murphy, June 24, 2014, 10:09:45 (UTC), Domain Registrars

Judging by DI’s traffic spike last night, there’s a lot of interest in Google Domains, Google’s forthcoming entry into the domain name registrar market.
And judging by some of the early commentary, it seems that many people are already assuming that the service will be an overnight success.
Some people already seem to be willing to write off market leader Go Daddy specifically, for some peculiar reason.
I’ve even heard speculation that Google timed its announcement to screw with Go Daddy’s imminent IPO, which strikes me as veering into conspiracy theory territory.
While I’ve no doubt Go Daddy and other mass-market retail registrars will be watching Google’s move with interest and concern — and there are some reasons to be worried — let’s not jump the gun here.
Let’s calm the hyperbole a little. Off the top of my head, here are a handful of reasons not to get excited just yet.
1. It could be a really shitty product
There seems to be an assumption in some quarters that whatever Google brings to market will be automatically incredible, but the company really doesn’t have the track record to support that assumption.
Sure, its search engine may be great and services such as Gmail and Adsense may be pretty good, but have you ever tried Blogger?
Do you actually use Google+, or do you only have an account because Google forced you?
The truth is that lots of Google products fail.
And we haven’t even seen Google Domains yet. Nobody has. Only Google employees and their buddies are going to get beta access, so it seems we’re going to be waiting a while before we can judge.
2. There’s no 24×7 support
Google Domains will launch with support via email and phone from 9am to 9pm US Eastern time, Monday to Friday.
Would you switch to a registrar that doesn’t have round-the-clock support seven days a week? As a small business owner who makes his living from his web site, I sure wouldn’t.
If Google Domains gains traction you can expect support hours to be expanded pretty quickly, but a lack of 24×7 support at launch will keep many customers away.
3. It’s not free
Some people seem to be obsessed with the notion that Google is going to give away free domains, and that kind of commentary is continuing even though we know Google Domains will charge $12 for a .com.
Its email service may come at no additional cost, but its email service is Gmail, and that’s already free. Google could hardly start charging an add-on fee for something that’s always been free.
Google Domains may offer free privacy too, but so do lots of other registrars.
In future, Google registry arm Charleston Road Registry may give away free names in some of its new gTLDs, but if it does so that price will have to be available to all registrars, not just Google Domains.
Google Domains isn’t free. It’s not even the cheapest registrar on the market.
4. Go Daddy is gigantic
According to its recent regulatory filings, Go Daddy has 57 million domains under management and 12 million customers.
How many of those do you think will make the switch to Google? How many will even know that such a switch is possible?
Switching registrars may be relatively straightforward if everything you own is parked, but it becomes more complex when you’re running your web site, email and so forth on your registrar’s platform.
These kinds of small business owners are the customers being targeted by Google and Go Daddy, and if they already have web sites they’re likely already experiencing registrar lock-in.
According to its announcement, Google is targeting greenfield opportunities — the 55% of small businesses it estimates don’t have an online presence today — rather than grabbing market share from rivals.
The “small businesses need to get online” story is common to every press release issued by every web host and domain registrar with a price promotion to plug.
When Google teamed up with Blacknight to give away domains for free — for FREE, so it is, so it is — to Irish small businesses, it managed to sign up 10,000 in one year.
How long do you think it will take Google to get to 57 million names under management?

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Comments (17)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    Gmail is free, but Google Apps for Your Domain is not and it’s currently rated at USD5/user/month. 100 users would 5*100*12 = USD 6,000 a year and they are offering it at USD 12 a year just for using their registrar. That’s quite a discount even if it’s not free.

    • Jalaj says:

      Seems many didn’t read the Google’s info page fully. Emails are not free.. email aliases are… you can configure 100 aliases that would redirect to existing email addresses. Forget Google Apps.

  2. Props to Google for innovating again! But took them long enough. Take down those greedy Go Daddy‬ bastards! They’ll have free privacy service for your ‪domains.‬ Privacy is the biggest rip-off in domains. Go Daddy makes a killing on that! It’s highway robbery. Costs them nothing. And now they’ve been limiting the registration promo codes. It’s a joke. How much time have I wasted trying to find promo codes that work? TONS! Searching like 5 different sites to find one I haven’t used before that still works. ***Google, make sure you guys have competitive promo codes for registration AND transferring so we can transfer away from Go Daddy.*** Namecheap now has like $8 codes to transfer away from GD. Match that Google. More competition is exactly what’s needed in the industry. GD is abusing their power and taking advantage of us, They’ve even upped the renewal prices and cut back on the renewal code discounts. Totally uncalled for. That’s just greedy It’s like they’re slowly getting greedier and greedier. They ain’t hurting for profits. Someone needs to hold them accountable! Take them down Google and make them compete and lower their prices. There is NO competition in the domain industry. Go Daddy sucks.

  3. One thing I will call Google on is what took so long to make a full-fledged registrar service? They’ve had the ICANN acceditation for ages. That was just lazy guys.

    • Jon says:

      They got the accreditation originally just so that they could have a seat at the ICANN table.

      • Kevin Murphy says:

        I recall Vint Cerf said several years ago that the original intent was to see if it could access to registration data to help optimize the search algorithm. But it didn’t.

  4. Nuno says:

    Rubens, they are offering email forwarding, not 100 real email accounts like at Google Apps.

  5. Jay Daley says:

    One of the reasons so many Google products fail is their ridiculously defensive way of releasing them as closed betas. All that does is frustrate and alienate lots of people, waste the initial publicity around the launch and stop wiling customers from using the product. Whether that will effect this product remains to be seen but it’s not the best way to start.

  6. Great post. I love Godaddy and the support they offer. Once you get to a cetrtain level of domains they appoint you an executive team to help manage your domain and website issues. I can barely figure out how to get rid of a google+ account that I inadvertently signed up for years ago. It’s quite a chore to try to even contact Google. You have to get (and find) a new support pin every time you call in. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t see me switching to google domains unless the support gets to the level where GoDaddy is. GoDaddy offers internet specialists to help you. 95% of them are really good. I have learned a ton from them. That is what builds loyalty. I use Bluehost and Hostgator, not even in the same league. GoDaddy has the energy and they will not be easy to defeat.

  7. Jon says:

    I suspect this will be very successful, largely off the back of the popularity of the Google Apps offering. Yahoo had a great deal of success with their domain offering, based largely on the popularity of their other services..
    Your point about many Google products failing is well made, but domain registration isn’t exactly rocket science.

  8. Frank Schilling says:

    I definitely think Google makes this work. The stakes are too high because names touch so many different parts of their business from search optimization to paid search to mail. Google has the resources and will bring ever greater quantities of them to bear as they grow this piece of their business. The rising tide will force others to up their game and will bring huge consumer benefit in the years ahead. I pity Apple in all this. Those guys just can’t get the Web right whether it’s missing the G opportunity or making their browsers (mobile safari) compatible with new G’s.. Company really seems rudderless these days.

  9. Paul Schwada says:

    To Google’s credit, they’re playing by their own rules. Google “register website name” or “register domain” and GoDaddy and are still in the top slots.

  10. Michael says:

    The CEO decided to transfer our domain over to Google Domains without mentioning it to I.T. (yours truly). He sent me an email after the fact and I warned him that we could eat a lot of downtime. Sure enough, we did. I spent hours trying to fix the problems.
    Note that Google has willfully broken one site after another on purchase for Internet Explorer users. In this case, Google Domains just freezes completely, preventing even a single keystroke from happening in IE 11. This is a planned denial-of-service and I know this because I’ve designed websites since there were websites.

  11. Michael says:

    ^ “on purpose” (spellcheck error)

  12. Googles recipe for choking off rapid Online business expansion, is tied into the fallacy that new GTLDs will promote Online Business growth. The only thing the new GTLDs and other extensions that Google supports do is add more pages of competitors for Google to bill for their ad system. New GTLDs strengthen Googles stranglehold on Internet traffic being manipulated to keep Googles Ad base Dependent and paying fees to actually get their business’s lost in Googles dysfunctional Business locating Maze.
    In this GOOGLE Generic Alphabet soaked atmosphere, you need to differentiate your companies Brand. Its a matter of Online Business survival. Its not enough that you crave your Brands differentiation from the pack of competitors you are competing with. The Big question is how will Search Engine Marketing contribute to your cause?
    The Search Engine Marketing Model that Google-Centric Admen use unknowingly suckers your Business into a traffic stealing maze that, leads your Businesses Brand into a jungle or maze of never ending competitive choices in page after page of never ending choices, further Marginalizing and Diluting your businesses Brands ability to stand apart from Googles assemblage of page after page of your businesses most feared competitors, that are just one Click away on the same page as yours !
    So if you do not want to expose your online business traffic to be channeled away from you and sent to your competitors, by all means steer clear of the Google MADMEN. Its a trap that many businesses are in.
    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger) (Former Rockefeller IBEC Marketing Analyst/Strategist) (Licensed CBOE Commodity Hedge Strategist) (Domain Master )

  13. Michael says:

    New bug on the Google Domains admin page: Add an email forward and *after* you press the submit button their spellchecker decides to “fix” your (assumed) spelling errors in the destination email address, sending a notification to THAT person instead!
    Seriously not ready for primetime, folks.

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