Amazon looks like the winner of the .free domain

March 20, 2015 11:57 AM Inc. appears to have beaten Google and a handful of others for the .free domain name.

A spokesman for the International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages the names and numbers of web addresses and is known as ICANN, wouldn’t confirm that Amazon had won the bidding for the domain name. However, a check of the application status for the domain shows that of the five bids submitted, Amazon’s is the only one not withdrawn. ICANN’s registry shows the bid’s status as “In Contracting,” which ICANN defines as “eligible applicants enter into a Registry Agreement ("RA") with ICANN to operate the applied-for TLD,” which is short for Top-Level Domain. A top-level domain is the word or term that appears after the final period in a web address.

A check of the organization’s auctions results page, which is updated within seven days of an auction taking place, does not show .free among those listed. Google and Internet domain name registry Donuts Inc. were among the other four bidders for the domain name. There is no indication of what Amazon or the others bid for the domain.

According to details of Amazon’s application for the domain, the retailer “intends to initially provision a relatively small number of names in the registry to support the goals of the TLD. These initiatives should not impose social costs on any type of consumers.” The application does not provide further details as to how Amazon plans to use the domain. Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, did not return an email seeking comment.

Amazon’s apparent win of .free comes just weeks after Google outbid it for the .app web domain registration, spending more than $25 million. ChannelAdvisor Corp. CEO Scot Wingo says he’s not sure what Google and Amazon’s end game is when it comes to snapping up these domains.

“The buying of these extensions like app and free is highly speculative. All we know is that companies like Google and Amazon have a combination of extra money to invest and ideas on how to monetize these down the line,” he says. “Of course, they could just be playing defense.”





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