Google Launches ‘.dev’ Domain in (Expensive) Early Access Program

How badly do you need a custom .dev domain? If the answer is ‘really, really badly,’ you should check out Google Domains right now – and call your credit card company to let them know you’re about to make a sizable online purchase.

Launched as an ‘early access program’ this week, the .dev domain is essentially just another domain name. It’s still $12/year, does not include anything like email or a website, and lacks an SSL certificate (but does include HSTS, so the browser will always make an HTTPS request to your domain). Let’s not mince words: you’re getting a domain name, and that’s it.

The inclusion of HSTS is great, but ultimately pretty standard. Google’s main selling point for a .dev domain is that you’ll stand out. And it’s creating an artificial land rush. From the .dev early access program landing page:

Over 200 million .com domains have already been claimed. With the launch of .dev, you can find the domain you want before anyone else. It’s time to get creative. What will you .dev?

Google is charging a premium for access to its .dev domains. Here’s the pricing breakdown (the 24-hour slots are from 8:00am PST on day one to 7:59am PST the second day, or the day the window closes):

  • February 19-20: $11,500
  • February 20-21: $3,500
  • February 21-22: $1,150
  • February 22-25: $350
  • February 25-28: $125
  • February 28: $0

This is just for early access! You’ll still have to pay $12 per year to keep your .dev domain active.

Google is already using .dev domains for two of its own projects. The web.dev portal is a robust set of tools and educational material about building modern webpages, housing several sub-pages. The more static opensource.dev is a single-page site with several redirects to unique pages.

The .dev domain lands after Google released the .app portal, which it positioned as one developers and companies could snap up for their products. The same can be said for the .dev domains, especially for developers and firms that release software. But $11,500? We’re just not sure there’s a lot of overlap in the Venn diagram of companies or people who have a product they need a .dev domain for, and those who worry someone else will spend ten grand to squat on the domain they want for that product.

We expect Google will still make quite a bit of cash from its $12 annual domain registry fee, but we’re hard-pressed to see why anyone should pay thousands of dollars for a domain that will likely just be used to redirect to a sign-on page for access to enterprise dev tools, or by independent devs who want a flashy domain name for their GitHub page. For most, the .dev domain is simply an online vanity plate.