An Overview of the .app TLD

.app is Killing It

Quick Stats About .app

The .app TLD is a “new generic top level domain”

  • Generic TLDs (often referred to as GTLDs) are TLDs consisting of three or more letters (as opposed to country code TLDs, which are just two letters and are often referred to as ccTLDs).
  • “New” generic TLDs (often referred to as NGTLDs) are newly introduced TLDs as part of ICANN now allowing TLDs in addition to the original six (.edu for education, .com for commercial, .org for non-profit orgs, .net for networks, .gov for governments, and .mil for military).

The .app TLD is owned by Google

  • Google purchased the .app TLD in an ICANN auction in February 2015 for $25 million, setting a record high price for a NGTLD.
  • Since .app is owned by Google, you can be confident you have a stable domain name:
    • World-class back-end infrastructure with the highest speeds and perfect uptime
    • No funny business (see thedarksideof.io)
    • No risk of your TLD being changed (see article about .io uncertainties)
    • No country-level forced requirements (see article about .za domains being required to link to South Africa’s government covid-19 website).

The .app TLD was offered to the public just over two years ago

  • Google opened up .app to the public on May 1, 2018. For the first week of public availability, .app domains were offered through a Dutch Auction, where the most excited buyers can pay an additional fee to register a domain on an earlier day.
The .app TLD has been insanely popular
  • There were over 200 thousand registrations of .app in the first week of general availability, and now there are over 680 thousand registrations.
  • The level of development has outpaced any other new top level domain. 
 

Why .app is Taking Over

The app platform of the future is the Open Web, and .app will power it!

  • As Progressive Web App (PWA) functionality continues to innovate, most innovative products are moving to platform agnostic Web-based apps that behave exactly like the apps you used to download!
    • Vice categories (porn, gambling, marijuana, etc) are banned by app stores forcing these companies to resort to the web. Just like how porn helped drive the adoption of the Internet! (see A Brief History of Porn on the Internet)
    • Relating to the above point, censorship is increasingly an issue. While Apple and Google regularly give in to governments and angry mobs, the Web is harder to censor.
    • PWAs are lighter and faster
  • JAMstack and Serverless hosting platforms, powering the Web apps of the future, have chosen .app to power their subdomains! Google’s Firebase uses web.app, Vercel uses vercel.app, and Netlify uses netlify.app)
  • The biggest companies in the world are motivated beyond belief to have a powerful Open Web!
    • Over 70% of Google’s revenue comes from search and ads. If Native apps (ehhem, Apple) were to take over, this would be a catastrophic loss for Google. There’s a reason why Google set records when they purchased control of the .app domain.
    • Microsoft has been left behind on Mobile, famously due to their “app gap.” Both sides of the market (consumers and developers) could seeming only cover two ecosystems (iOS and Android). Microsoft has gone all-in on PWAs after realizing that the only way to to solve their “app gap” is to help foster an ecosystem of platform agnostic applications.
  • Native development is expensive and hard
    • Dealing with multiple code bases that work differently on different devices and then dealing with obscure app store policies and delayed updates, along with giving 30% OF REVENUE away, is starting to get to developers!
    • Spotify, Netlify, and now Basecamp, along with many others have been feuding with app stores for years.
    • Apple has current EU and USA antitrust investigations into the App Store monopoly.

Country Code TLDs Won’t Work at Scale

  • Some CCTLDs have been popular, but they all have their issues and typically we’ve seen all companies switch to .com as they grow. Some examples of CCTLD issues:

The .app TLD is one of only a few TLDs that is part of the HSTS Preload List

  • This means that .app domains are required to have an SSL certificate to be used. This means that by default, .app domains are more secure than other TLDs, including .com

How to Get a .app Domain

Registering a new .app

  • We recommend Google’s registrar! Google owns .app, they’re a trustworthy/reliable registrar, pricing is $14/year, and they offer free SSL certificates.
Buying a .app from an existing registrant
  • Many .app owners have landing pages with contact info, so the first step in trying to secure a domain that you like, if it’s already registered, is to visit the domain in your browser.
  • If you don’t have any luck visiting the domain, you can check the popular domain name exchanges to see if the owner has listed the name for sale. A great resource that we’d recommend is dofo.com. This site allows users to search for already-registered domain names, and will tell you if they’re for sale on any of the various domain name exchanges.