#7: Biggest Stories of 2006: .mobi

Get this. A company is formed whose investors include Ericsson, Google, GSM Association, Hutchison, Microsoft, Nokia, Orascom Telecom, Samsung Electronics, Syniverse, T-Mobile, Telefónica Móviles, TIM and Vodafone. This company’s goal is to provide “the critical link between the mobile operator, Internet services and the users to make their mobile devices the Internet and communication tool of choice.” Seems like this company, with it’s investors, would understand the space and be able to make a real impact towards that goal.

The way they set about to achieve that goal was to create a new top level Internet domain (TLD). The general idea being that everyone would want to create a parallel website uniquely designed to work well on mobile devices. In July 2005, the company gained approval from the Internet registrars to create and manage the .mobi TLD. In May 2006, the company started taking initial applications for .mobi domains. The scope of these registrations was broadened in June and then again in September. “More than 13,000” domains were registered in the first few months.

All this sure sounds like “big news” for 2006, and with the combined PR heft of the above mentioned companies, .mobi did gain lots of coverage in the first half of the year.

However, given that even obscure TLDs like .info have thousands of new domains registered each day

And, given that existing web standards, like the CSS Mobile Profile (from the W3C, whose members include Ericsson, Google, Hutchison, Microsoft, Nokia, Telefónica, and Vodafone) have already solved this problem in a way that doesn’t require creating a parallel web site…

And, given that any domain with .mobi in it will be harder to tap into a mobile device than the same domain but with .com or .net or just about any other top level domain…

…maybe the official launch of the .mobi domain isn’t real news after all.

Unfortunately, this is yet another “big news” but “no news” story for 2006. But don’t worry, we’re nearing the end of the first half of the list and will soon be moving onto big news stories that really were and will continue to be big news.

Stay tuned!

2 Responses to “#7: Biggest Stories of 2006: .mobi”

  1. Since every big story deserves a follow-up for year’s end …

    More than 300,000 domains have been registered since launch. Content is coming alive daily, with brands like BusinessWeek and CNNMoney featuring the availability of their .mobi sites in their advertising.

    However, as far as existing mobile web standards, that’s one of the many issues we’ve addressed in our blog’s “Misconceptions” series at http://dotmobi.typepad.com/dotmobi/misconceptions/index.html.

    And while I understand what people mean when they say “.mobi” seems strenuous to type, I believe that’s soon to be a non-issue as more and more phone manufacturers default their handset web browsers to .mobi domains.

  2. Russ says:

    Thanks Vance.

    I’ve got to wonder about an initiative that has to create a special site just to address “misconceptions.”

    For those who haven’t visited dotMobi’s misconceptions website (http://dotmobi.typepad.com/dotmobi/misconceptions/index.html) yet, here are the posts that are there:
    – Part One: Addressing .mobi Misconceptions
    – Misconception #2: The dotMobi domain is simply another walled garden
    – Misconception #3: dotMobi is another “land grab.”
    – Misconception #4: dotMobi requires brands to market two domains
    – Misconception #5: dotMobi requires web site with name registration
    – Mobile-Only Domain Shows Its True Color: Helping the Consumer
    – Ok – I’ll Bite
    – Mobile browser advances do not remove the the need for mobile-friendly sites

    Vance’s note above seems to reference the very first posting on this site. Quoting from the response to this misconception:

    “It is absolutely true that there are many technologies that exist today, including open source solutions such as WURFL, that can be used to identify the device accessing a site, and provide an appropriately formatted page in response. Many existing .com sites do this already today, including google.com and nokia.com.

    “DotMobi is fully in support of such device recognition and adaptation — this is one of the central tenets of our best practices. However, the problem that dotMobi is trying to address is a different problem: It is the problem that the vast majority of existing .com and other top-level domain websites either do not work at all, or result in an expensive and miserable experience, when accessed on a mobile device. DotMobi gives users a way to pick out the sites that work, without having to resort to trial and error.

    “Third level domains such as wap.domain.com and mobile.domain.com do not work well for the purpose identifying mobile content, nor do special URIs such as domain.com/mobile and domain.com/xhtml because there are no enforceable standards for doing this (DNS is inherently distributed — registrants can do whatever they want with third-level domains). A top-level domain, on the other hand, can do this, and help the user to identify (and trust) mobile friendly sites. ”

    In other words, some domain holders (examples given: Google and Nokia) have created mobile-friendly versions of their websites and have taken the step of automatically redirecting visitors so that they don’t have to think about trying a mobile-specific domain. However, most websites haven’t taken this step.

    For all of those others, dotMobi says either:
    a) (preferred) these domain holders should register another domain (from which dotMobi will gain revenue) and, just like Google and Nokia, create a mobile-friendly version of their website, but then expect users to figure out which domain to use (or as Vance notes above, eventually phone manufacturers who are investors in dotMobi are going to force their users to the dotMobi domain forcing every domain holder to pay dotMobi if they want to participate in the mobile web), or
    b) be branded as “untrustable.”

    Wow. Sounds great. I wonder why there’s a need for addressing some of the misconceptions that are out there about money grabbing and walled gardens?

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