Google is launching a new domain registration service that will present strong competition for current top dog GoDaddy. The service is called Google Domains, and will be starting off with an invite-only beta.

Google has long offered domain registration through Google Apps for Business, however previously the domain was actually registered with a partner site such as GoDaddy, with Google simply handling the purchasing process. By offering its own domain registration service, Google has not only cut ties with GoDaddy, but has created a rival option that will likely draw many customers away.

GoDaddy is currently the top domain holder, responsible for around 30 percent of domain registration market. Despite its high market share, GoDaddy has been losing money since 2009, and is struggling to draw in new customers. Part of this is due to concerns about privacy and customer service issues. Stories about customers having their websites hijacked to GoDaddy's poor security have created some bad press for the service, and may make Google Domains an even more attractive option.

Google will be offering private registration for free, protecting the personal details associated with the domain. Currently most domain registrars charge extra for this service. Google will also offer branded email accounts using the domain, which can be redirected to an existing Gmail account. Google seems to be directing marketing efforts toward small business owners at the moment, although it may target individuals once the service becomes more established.

"It's 2014 and 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," says Google in a statement. "But amazingly, our research shows that 55% of small businesses still don't have one."

Google Domains will connect with a variety of website design services to help users build their page, including Weebly, Wix, Shopify and Squarespace. The services will be available for their usual fee. Google will also be adding support for new domain endings such as .guru and .photography, and websites will use Google's own DNS servers, ensuring fast and reliable access.

Some concerns regarding privacy have been raised due to Google's habit of aggregating massive amounts of user data in order to provide targeted ads. Little specific information is available at this time, but Google does assure customers that it will never share data with third parties except as requested by the user or required by law.

Google Domains is currently accepting requests for invitations, and will be rolling out the new service slowly over the next few months. Domain names are currently priced at $12 per year.

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