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Dot-word sensation: Google forks out $25m for a fist of .app-y pills

That's ICANN's Christmas party sorted, then?

Google has spunked $25m on the rights to sell domains ending in ".app", beating off competition from 12 other bidders, including Amazon and almost every large internet registry.

The new generic top-level domain (gTLD) was notable for being the most hotly contested extension amid more than 1,000 others that vary from brand names to common words and everything in between.

Due to the large number of bidders, efforts to hold the auction privately were unsuccessful, so the rights were sold at a public auction run by domain oversight organization ICANN.

As a result, ICANN took all the proceeds from the auction and added it to a fund that now contains $32.8m – more than half ICANN's total annual budget, at least before the gTLD process was approved.

The exact price of $25,001,000 – $25m and $1,000 – is nearly four times the previous highest bid through ICANN auctions. In September, $6.7m was paid for dot-tech back.

In many respects, the auction closes a long chapter on the historic expansion of the internet which has seen the number of top-level domains rocket in the past six months. There are now over 500 new dot-words, with roughly another 500 due to come online in 2015.

Although there are 25 applications still "in contention" and so due to be resolved in auctions [PDF] over the next two months – including dot-diy, dot-taxi and dot-map – the resolution of dot-app to the internet search giant is a significant milestone.

According to its application, Google plans to use dot-app to "provide a dedicated domain space for application developers".

The company had originally intended to run dot-app as a "closed generic," meaning that it would have sole control over who was allowed to register domains under the gTLD. But following pressure from governments, it changed its application to make it publicly available through the usual retail channels.

The huge proceeds will add pressure on ICANN's management to provide details on how it intends to spend the loot. Beyond saying it will run an unspecified process that will allow the internet community to decide what is done with the proceeds, the organization and its board have been vague about their plans. ®

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