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Google pays almost $18.7 million to get domains - .google, .youtube, .goog and .plus

Google wants love. But so do six other companies. They are after .love, actually, a new "top-level domain" that could catch on as .com, .org and .net did.

Love might not prevail, but chances are, at least one of the domains in 1,930 applications for new extensions will. The domains are the letters that follow the dot in Internet addresses, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, revealed the new requests on Wednesday.

Google proved to be one of the more ambitious applicants. It spent almost $18.7 million applying for more than 100 top-level domains, some expected, some not. Not surprisingly, the search giant wants .google, .youtube, .goog and .plus. It was the only applicant vying for .fly, .new and .eat. But it is going to have to fight Johnson & Johnson for .baby,Microsoft for .docs and .live, and Amazon for 17 top-level domains: .wow, .search, .shop, .drive, .free, .game, .mail, .map, .movie, .music, .play, .shop, .show, .spot, .store, .talk and .you.

Amazon also went after .tunes, .got, .author, .smile, .song, .joy, .bot, .like and .call. It does not appear that Facebook applied for any domain. Apple applied for .apple.

The most sought-after extension is .app, with 13 applicants though not Apple, which popularized the mobile application.

"The Internet is about to change forever," said Rod Beckstrom, chief executive of ICANN.

ICANN is expected to approve hundreds of these extensions, the first of which should be in use by next year. ICANN set the application fee high, at $185,000 a name, to try to discourage frivolous bids; still, more than 200 terms are being sought by more than one bidder. ICANN decides who gets ownership of the contested top-level domains.

ICANN will evaluate applicants in batches and consider various objections. Among the objections it will consider are those from rights holders. It would have very likely thrown out an application for .microsoft from an entity that is not Microsoft. The most common objection is likely to be the "limited public interest condition." In those cases, people might object to a profit-making company like Google owning a generic top-level domain name like .love or .fun.
The geographical origin of the applications demonstrates the increasingly international nature of the Internet. While nearly half of the bids are from North America, more than 600 have come from Europe and about 300 from the Asia-Pacific region.

More than 100 of the applications are for extensions in non-Western alphabets. While so-called internationalized domain names have been phased in since 2010, the current expansion could accelerate the globalization of the Internet, Beckstrom said.

"That is going to mean a lot to the people in countries who maybe feel they haven't benefited fully from the Internet," he said.

While there are already several hundred dot suffixes, many of these, including country-specific domain names like, come with restrictions. There are only a handful of so-called generic top-level domains, including .info, .net, .org and the popular .com - which, according to supporters of the expansion plan, is running out of capacity for accommodating the digital world's ever-growing addressing needs.

The expansion creates an opportunity for marketers, who will be able to develop websites with addresses ending in their companies' brand names, or an entire category of products or services, like .music or .insurance.

There is also a lingering question about whether the new suffixes are needed at all. Some top-level domains that ICANN has created in previous, smaller expansion rounds have attracted little interest. Many consumers find websites via search engines, rather than typing in an exact Web address. Others are increasingly using mobile applications, rather than the open Internet.

"This is an opportunity for brands, cities and countries to step out of what was this very limited - in my view - environment in which they could promote their brands," said Alex Berry, senior vice president for enterprise services at Neustar, an Internet registry service that is working with clients like New York City, which is seeking the .nyc name. "This is a positive, a once-in-a-generation opportunity that we'll look back on 10 years from now and say, 'Wow."'

The .wow domain, by the way, is sought by Google, Amazon and the online content publisher Demand Media.

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