While Google entered the Domain Registration market back in June 2014 under a closed Beta for testing purposes, open to just a select group of people. It is only recently that this service has been opened up to the public for those situated in the United States, at least while it is still in Beta.
With Google's internet presence is stands to take a significant share of its main competitors such as GoDaddy or Namecheap, although with pricing starting at $12 per year it certainly won't be the cheapest way to purchase a domain.
Google Domains Features
You can read the full features on their Help Section, but to summarize:
- Free Private Registration (Whois Privacy) — When you purchase your domain you can select a privacy option that will either enable or disable the private registration.
- Email Forwarding — You can create 100 email aliases (email accounts) with your Google Domain and have them forward to existing email accounts like your Gmail email address.
- Easy Domain Forwarding — Easily point your domain to an existing domain website. An example would be forwarding a .net domain to the .com version.
- Customizable subdomains — You can create up to 100 subdomains.
- Fast, secure and reliable internet infrastructure with Google — By using the same DNS servers as Google, your website will load more quickly as the "DNS Lookup" time will be much lower.
- Simple domain management tools — Manage your domains records, such as A, AAAA, CNAME, MX, NS, PTR, SPF, SRV, TXT. Use Google Synthetic Records for integration with the Google App Engine, Configure Nameservers, Configure TTL as well as utilize domain locking for security.
- Easy integration with top website builders — Google has partnered with top website builders such as Wix, Squarespace, Weekly and Shopify to enable you to quickly and easy domain propagation. It makes quite a bit of sense for Google to partner with website builders that require little to no knowledge of website design creation. It is a clear signal that Google is endeavoring to help businesses get an online presence, as, after all, they are a core source of business via its AdWords product.
- New Top Level Domains — You can see a list of the 60 Top Level Domains you can purchase, along with the pricing here.
- Phone, Email, and Live Chat support — The Google Domains Support Team is available every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. PT.
The features and interface have been developed since the Beta started in June last year, with many improvements such as a more streamlined dashboard, support for more TLD's, and even the ability to browse templates from its website builder partners.
Google has been a Domain Registrar since 2005
It may surprise you to know that Google has been an ICANN accredited registrar of domain names since 2005, although it is almost ten years later since they have seen fit to go to market. With Google operating Blogger, they could have been in a prime position to offer cheap domains far sooner, although with many other domain companies offering much cheaper offerings it may have been that Google didn't see much profit in it until now.
Should other companies be worried?
While many people will choose to buy domains from Google, we don't think web hosts or other domain registration companies will be overly worried. Google has made clear its intent:
[ ...] it seems obvious, but across laptops, tablets and mobile devices, a website is one of the first places people go to find information about a business. But amazingly, our research shows that 55 percent of small businesses still don't have one.
By teaming up with website builders, it is clear that Google is not intending or preparing to launch its own website hosting service or even its own website builder. Also, with the $12 per domain pricing, it is more expensive than the mainstream domain registrars, especially as no discounts are awarded for multiple year purchases.
One area that Google may excel is in the easy integration for Google Apps. What remains to be seen is how much the website builder partners like Wix or Weebly will promote Google Domains.