Dot Mobi, Dot Flop?

29 Comments

So the public can officially start buying “dot mobi” domain names for wireless Internet sites today. . . Not excited? You mean you haven’t been anxiously waiting for this day for weeks?

We haven’t either. There’s a lot of skepticism and division over the dot mobi plan, including doubts from web creator Tim Berners-Lee. When I spoke with Neil Edwards, CEO of DotMobi, a joint venture to promote the mobi domains, a few months ago, he said the purpose is to ease the consumer’s mobile web browsing experience. Fair enough, but we’re not sure the domain name is the best way to do it. Like Berners-Lee says this could fragment the mobile web more than help it, since the content should be smart enough to format to the device.

The WSJ says only 13,000 dot mobi names have been signed up through the previous months when the system was open to just wireless companies and trade name holders. Far below the 25,000 expected. We think we’ll hold off on gigaom.mobi for now. Any one buying these things?

29 Comments

AllKindsOfThings

Notably, please keep in mind that dotMobi made increadible progress over the last 18 months, including passing one million registered names already a while ago, seeing dotMobi sites win a Webby Audience Award and massively contributing to the creation of a global W3C standard to make high quality Device Descriptions available to EVERY site owener, to allow device adaptation even for the tinyiest site on the planet by sponsoring the DDWG Mobile Web Initiative for the W3C.

What most people did still not acknowledge is, that mobile AS SUCH is different from desktop – like a totally different axis in the ccordinate system. Still – over time they hopefully will, as otherwise the wave of mobile targeted content from the next two billion (the emerging market wave of users and site authors whose first, prime and only internet expereicen is deliverd via phones) will push their legacy content into obsolence.

Users are actually quite happy to have some easy to understand way to know upfront if the expereince they will come with the promise that the author valued their concerns (of not being served badly formatted data that makes the mobile device browser stack crash for a fortune of data fees). Indicating this by using a dotMobi site name to brand a mobile entry point is simple and obvious enough for an end-user.

This also clarifies that the “m-Dot” prefix is not really a good answer for many reasons – mostly for being a kludge and a convention that is less obvious and stringent than using a truely global anchor point that can consolidate all mobile traffic of a brand into the most simple and clean form as “http://brand.mobi”.

It might be actually worthwhile to make the remark that dotMobi is NOT about names only; its about mobilizing the internet one site at a time, and about discussion with developers and marketeers why mobile indeed IS different.

You can join the debate on marketing at http://mobithinking.com/, shooce to discuss mobile site design and site building at http://dev.mobi/, and get your ahnds on a comprehensive content adaptation device database at http://deviceatlas.com/ – the latter being one of the first and most complete freely developer accessible W3C DDWG complicant Device Database.

Give it a try – it’s free but could proove as quite valuable for you.

Best regards, AllKindsOfThings

Pierluigi Fabbri

I think that walkink in Internet with a mobile is very expensive so why meet million of sites unreadable with a bad html design ? (think to a long row)
With .Mobi instead, You are sure to visit all sites well readable with a mobile and You will not loss time and money so people will navigate more and more with a mobile.

joy antony

I am a fan of .mobi. I never used internet thru mobile phones before. But I have purchased hundreds of .mobi names because of the supporters behind .mobi. Microsoft or Google will support any tlds for nothing.

I am sure, future of .mobi domains are bright. Flowers.mobi sold at TRAFFIC Conference for US $ 200,000, fun.mobi for $100k, hot.mobi for 40k etc.

Bullish on dot Mobi

Study Japan and korea’s cell phone market and it will all make sense.

Brian

Any big site worth their weight already redirects mobile users to their mobile designed page. IE google, who is a backer of this extension. I don’t really think the .mobi will go anywhere for a few years. As PDA’s advance I’m sure .mobi will have more of a presence. I work for a company that owns many web sites and collectively we get well over 1 million page views per month. I sorted through all of the traffic this past summer and less than 3 percent were mobile users…that’s roughly 30,000 users. Not quite worth our time just yet to develop specific mobile sites. For now, the phones format our pages good enough for visitors read as do many non graphic intesive sites. Plus, the download speeds aren’t up to par just yet to handle graphic intensive pages.

Parker

It does take a lot of key pushes to type .mobi on a phone, however this was thought about long before you said it here. Plans are definitely being pushed to make the .mobi extention automatic unless another extention is specified.

There are many “big boys” backing this extention, and I hope that with there clout it will succeed. In theory, having an extention for mobile sites makes a lot of sense, but it is WAY too early to see if this will take.

Hans Blaauw

What is easier to remember? One domain name or two domain names? I know the answer :-)

Simplicity is when the website renders to the device you use.

You probably noticed the domain extension is not cheap. Marketing bla bla.

Jim J.

Simplicity: on your cel, on the go, all that the user will have to type is the site’s name, ala an AOL Keyword. I think the debate over the usefulness of the domain itself is misplaced.

What gives this functionality the possibility to fly is the collusion (I admit it) on the part of Google, MS, and the phone carriers involved to push this standard.

Yes, for folks who know the web and browse lots of different sites it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but we’re the vast minority. The majority is going a handful of the same sites, and that’s the user experience which mobi will better integrate with their user experience.

Hans Blaauw

IMO this whole .mobi domain is bullshit. It is plain marketing and making money from a new extension. Every company with a fullblown site can make something to detect the browser, right now today!

Why a seperate domain for only another screenformat?

As a customer I would like to browse to a corporate website without making a decision if i’m on a mobile or desktop PC.

Jim J.

Apologies for the formatting issues in my last comment (so much for cross-compatibility…), it was a numbered list.

Anyway, what I continue to return to is my personal experience as a designer. I look at any xthml and css site that I’ve put together, and it would look bland or terrible when it decomposes. The code’s perfect XHTML, but it just can’t translate perfectly- as Dave mentions re: TBL.

I do agree that not every site, by any stretch, needs a “.mobi”. But, is you have a high-traffic, money-making site you do have the impetus to give the absolute best user-experience on every device. So, sure, if you’re a profitable website it is worth to shell-out what’s really just a much simpler version of your site.

Especially if you’re giving out real-time info (financial, sports, etc) or are community driven, you need to make your mobile interface optimized for phones- maybe some special coding for specific phones.

We ain’t in Kansas anymore…

Dave

I revere TBL just like everyone else. But TBL purposely lives in a world untainted by the realities of software implementation. It’s great that he has his goals, but the magic of “automatic content transformation”, rendering equally-beautiful applications on mobile phones, desktops and refrigerator panels, has yet to appear (and likely will not). Understanding that you’re targeting a phone is helpful and useful.

I think .mobi is really about SIP, however. It’s really about server-initiated actionsbeyond initiating voice calls (IM, PTT, conferencing…). This is why a mobile-specific domain is useful (not “necessary”) and one of the reasons I think some of the major players are backing it. .mobi or .tel – who knows who will win.

PS: the domain names are too expensive now during land rush. I’m waiting until Oct 11.

Freddy

I live in Dubai and cleaned up last night with the dot mobi fiasco. Basically, all around the western world, dot mobi has been bought, either as a protective mesure or for a quick buck.

Luckily for me even though i was slower than the world on the up take (see who bought http://www.britishairways.mobi, and jumeirah.mobi)
I was quicker than dubai and luckily bought as much as possible.

The way i see it is, this is an evolution. People scoffed at mobile phones, people scoffed at the internet, people scoffed at the computer.

Well its time for the new generation where the computer world is with us 247. In Japan and China you can already purchase things via swiping your mobile phone.

Standardising the practices helps the mobile industry and the net come together. Tis wont be a farce. It may take a while to set in but it is possible that something new is happening.

Just maybe we are on something good here

Jim J.

As Ken did, I also joined the “landrush” for names yesterday.

Why? While I completely understand the fundamentals of the Berners-Lee web (and the specifics of code properly decomposing, et al.), there are a few solid reasons why this is worth the risk:

  1. this new TLD is backed by Google, Vodafone, Microsoft and others- if there’s a consortium that’s going to make something happen, my money’s on these folks

  2. If you run an extremely content-rich site, there is simply no way to have your code decompose properly. Any large entertainment/business site is going to want to have absolute, pixel-perfect representation of their site’s mobile experience- not just a plain jane

      because all of the images and CSS have been stripped (another problem here is bandwidth).

  3. While there are auto-detect capabilities in certain browsers, the rumored intention of .mobi is that cel users won’t have to type any TLD suffix whatsoever, unless it’s a “.com”, etc. So, while the 10-keypress concern is well-taken, this would eliminate that hassle. This makes .mobi analogous to AOL keywords: an extremely simple solution geared toward very mainstream users (the target market of the mobile web is highly skewed toward teens, casual users, etc.).

  4. The minimum registration for these domains is 2 years- which means everyone has to sit tight for more than a year and let the jury deliberate before deciding whether to renew. (this admittedly also does nicely to line the pockets of the registars)

But, hey, who knows? Maybe I own a bunch of dot-hype… :)

Greg Clayman

We bought some of these to cover our larger sites, but it was a defensive move at best. Like many other companies, our plan it to make sure that the dotcom versions of our sites detect mobile devices and serve up mobile optimized versions.

Mobile.LA

Like many of the other posters, my decision to purchase a .mobi domain was purely for defensive purposes. But, I believe .mobi has the potential to become the .com of the wireless space if the standards are upheld.

Blake Engel

We bought ours but have no plans to market it. We have it purely to protect our brand. Our dot-com site is already equipped with smart content serving technology, so dot-mobi adds no benefit to us.

Jesse Boyes

I’m a mobile web and app developer — I’m one of the dissenters; .mobi is maddeningly wrong in a huge number of ways. It’s been rehashed very much, but Berners-Lee and everyone else is right — it’s confusing, the wrong solution to the problem, and even if that weren’t true, it’s really hard to type on a phone. How could it possibly be for the good of the mobile web? This TLD is just a greed-fueled license to print money.

Keith Erskine

I decided to purchase a .mobi domain because my company name (Padpaw) is comprised of “1st tap” letters which makes it easier to enter the web address using a mobile’s keypad.

Shawn McCollum

I reluctantly purchased a .mobi site for my site wampad this morning. I’m very much against the idea of .mobi. As a fledgling site and due to recent news, I felt I needed to grab my domain to secure it. It sucks to have to pay $80 for something that you feel you need to without getting any real benefit in return. Maybe one day they’ll make a movie about the mobi racket called the Untypeables.

Seth Matson

Im a webdesigner and I havent had a single client ask me to create them a cell phone freindly site yet. But, knowing how many people will eventually be surfing the net via a cell phone compared to a home computer it seems to be a huge deal. I’ve tested a few of the sites I created in the last few years on the .mobi emulator and none of them worked really at all http://emulator.mtld.mobi/emulator.php
I purchased a few of these high dollar domains last night. Im hoping they will be a good investment down the line…

Juhani Polkko

I like dotMobi, but only because of it’s marketing appeal. In addition to that, all websites which have a version for small screen, should always detect the clients (browser/user-agent) and show the page accordingly.

I hope to see .mobi addresses in every advertisement one day. Whenever there’s a .mobi address, the consumer knows that s/he can browse the site on phone. Nothing more, simple as that. As about 99.7% of internet sites still don’t have a mobile version, how would they know otherwise?

So how does this differ from wap.domain.com or m.domain.com? It doesn’t, except there’s currently no universal standard and wap as a word is kind of passé. Yeah, it’s a kind of rip-off. But what ever makes the media companies and internet superstars go to mobile, it’s all good.

Juhani

Antoine of MMM

If web standards were enforced from the get go, then we wouldnt need .mobi. Better yet, if manufactures stopped short-changing people with browsers that half-support standards (IE is big here, but pic a browser, really any one).

If web usability was an issue from the get go, maybe we wouldn’t have the web that we have today either (immersive and incredible). However, the lack of discipline on innovation has led to unrealistic expectations towards mobile websites that .mobi cannot fulfilly until all phones and mobile devices have enough horsepower to support the most graphical and immersive of websites.

Personally, I dont see many companies using .mobi as any more than a redirector to the mobile sites that they already have up (fixed to meet teh .mob terms of course).

Keith

I just purchased 20 .mobi addresses this morning. I got a good handful of popular addresses. I figured it is money well spent for the potential return.

Observer

Glad to see the roll out of Dot-Mobi. What’s very interesting is that many of the registrars purchasing great domains are located in Canada, e.g. Vancouver, Ontario, etc. Also, Pool.com has done very well indeed. They’ve acquired Cities.Mobi, Shows.Mobi, Shops.Mobi, and Leisure.Mobi. I suspect Pool.com has purchased many other premium domains as well. Wonder how they did it.

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