The announcement this week that Google will be restructuring its organizations seems to have sent the technology press into a frenzy. The creation of the new holding company, Alphabet makes logical sense and reflects a business that is thinking more about the top line rather than its external image. If Google were a person, this announcement would be akin to them buying their first house, choosing Centerparcs for their holidays and swapping the boy-racer car for a nice, steady Vauxhall Zafira.
For years Google has been a major part of our online lives. Whether it is through our email accounts, which for those who remember the early days, will recall that you had to be invited to join Gmail, or through YouTube which is now one of the greatest threats to the traditional TV channel or even cinema. Any product that Google thinks about is headline news, whether that is Google Glass, Driverless cars or new Top Level Domains.
Anyone who is relatively surprised by Google’s choice for the domain name for their new enterprise, www.ABC.XYZ should understand a bit more about the nuances of the new gTLD programme. There can’t be many more logical domain names in my opinion for a company called Alphabet – perhaps www.alphabet.com (owned by BMW) or even www.alpha.bet (which will be run by Afilias) – than the one they have chosen, which also underlines their investment and faith in the new gTLD programme. In fact, the name itself has a meaning to the company – some may believe it is related to the suit of products they already own (although I was struggling on the “J”) but Larry Page suggests otherwise “Alpha-bet means ‘investment return above benchmark,’ which we strive to do".
Google were the biggest single applicant, submitting 101 applications ranging from dotChrome to dotYouTube, dotDad to dotMom and dotZip to dotCar. When all the dust has settled, and the contention process has finally come to an end they will own approximately fifty but they could include dotShop, dotMusic and dotPlay as well as the obvious dotGoogle, dotGmail and dotDrive. Google have already made their intentions of developing new products and services in the gTLD space very clear by paying $25 million for owning the rights to run dotChrome earlier this year.
Some commentators have started to suggest that the adoption of a dotXYZ for their new business could start to see the end of dotCom. With well over 100 million registrations that simply will not happen. The new gTLDs have had some success in taking business away from the traditional gTLDs but there is no evidence yet of a reversal of fortune. If www.alphabet.com would have been available Google may well have chosen that as their main URL rather than www.ABC.XYZ. Whilst their own domain registrar business has been modest to date, as the company launch more and more of their Top Level Domains we would expect to see them become far more active in a marketing and communication sense.
In terms of the new business model, it is all very exciting. Google seem to have their fingers in every pie and there are few more respected brands in the technology space and the separation of the innovation side of the business (aka Google X) along with its broadband arm and various other project developments from the traditional revenue generation of search will make it more transparent for investors as to where it is re-investing its cash.
Whilst it is unlikely to have a massive short-term effect on new gTLD registrations, it is announcements like this that help to create that tipping point which will cause the exponential growth of the programme. Google are by far and away the biggest organisation to have adopted AND started to use a new gTLD that that perhaps is more important to the programme as a whole than what Top Level Domain they actually chose.