Fascinated by .ca domain names?

If you live in Canada and just can’t get enough of the domain-name game, Stuart MacDonald would like to hear from you. Stuart’s the guy who started Expedia.ca and has helped us whip the mesh conference into shape over the past couple of months with his mad shao-lin meeting skillz 🙂 And now he is the chairman of the committee that is in charge of nominating people for the board of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, which is in charge of .ca domain names. Get your applications in early — after you register for mesh, of course.

Thou dost protest too much, Robert

The Scobleizer is more than a tad upset that everyone is so excited by Google’s hosted Gmail project (he calls some of the posts “rewritten press releases”) and complains that no one is giving Microsoft any love, despite the fact that its Live domain project has been around for awhile now, and apparently has about 20 universities up and running already.

As I mentioned in a comment on Robert’s post (which you can see in the sidebar, in my CoComents box), that’s a fair point, but to drag the whole conflict of interest bogeyman into it just because a few bloggers run Google ads is way over the top – and it demeans his argument. Like Nick Carr, I find the whole thing a little bizarre. For the record, I’ve made a total of about $0.07 from my Google ads. It’s fine to complain about what you think is unfair treatment, but to impugn the motives of a host of people like Paul Kedrosky is offside (Paul’s hilarious response is here).

The bigger question, of course, is why Google’s move got so much “press” and Microsoft’s didn’t. The simple answer is that Google is cool and Microsoft is not. When it comes to email and hosted applications, Google is the upstart competitor and Microsoft is the dominant player – who wants to root for the dominant player? No one. People like to cheer for the underdog (although I admit that calling a company with a market cap of $110-billion an underdog seems a little odd).

I also find it interesting that at Dare Obasanjo’s blog, right underneath his post complaining about how little attention Microsoft gets for things, is a post about how confused the company’s marketing is when it comes to MSN and Live.com. Could that be part of the problem? Vinnie Mirchandani of Deal Architect thinks the lack of marketing support might have something to do with Microsoft’s desire to avoid cannibalizing Outlook. And old-media defender Scott Karp thinks bloggers need some kind of “Chinese wall.”

Google wants to host your company’s email

A couple of days ago, Garrett Rogers of ZDNet posted an item about something interesting he found while poking around in the Javascript source code for Google’s Gmail: the word “domain.” Putting two and two together, he theorized that Gmail would soon be offering a hosted email solution for anyone with a domain of their own – such as a corporation, for example, or a university. In other words, Google would be your email administrator, but the email would look like it came from your domain.

Nice work, Garrett – because that’s exactly what Google has done. First there was a note on the Google blog about the company providing a hosted email service for San Jose City College – which was spotted by eagle-eyed Nick Carr of Rough Type, who posted a comment called “Google attacks Outlook.” In case you thought he was exaggerating just a tad, Google then put up its hosted service beta, which was spotted by the equally eagle-eyed Paul Kedrosky.

Not to be inflammatory, but I think this is huge. Yes, some companies will be concerned about letting an outside provider host their mail, just as there are people who don’t use Gmail because they don’t trust the company, or don’t want even robotic eyes looking through their messages – or because they are worried about the government forcing Google to deliver email to the authorities.

Despite all that, I think there will be plenty of companies – particularly small ones – as well as universities and other users who will be more than happy to get out from under the thumb of Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, although as my friend Rob Hyndman notes, the MSFT package still has a lot of things that Gmail doesn’t when it comes to being a PIM. Phil Sim of Squash, meanwhile, thinks that hosted Gmail is just one more tool to lock you in, and Zack Handley says that many companies would probably find that Gmail is more than enough.

See my update here.