M Dot: Web’s Answer to Mobile

Whoever thinks the web is sliding ever-so gently onto mobile phones hasn’t spent much time mucking around in the cellular browser. The mobile Internet is kicking its way there, with a lot of confusing choices for consumers — dot mobi, WAP, mobile.name.com. But I’ve noticed a trend lately of Internet companies using m.name.com, or M Dot, to go mobile.

This weekend Twitter lit up its latest mobile site with m.twitter.com. That follows the moves of Internet companies, especially search, like Yahoo’s m.yahoo.com, Google’s m.google.com, and Ask’s m.ask.com. Like its parent, YouTube also has the m.youtube.com site, though, it’s currently blocked and won’t open up until June stateside.

M:Metrics, a research firm that complies data on mobile usage, tracks the m.domains as subdomains of websites visited on mobile devices. Interestingly enough, M:Metrics says that “m.domains accounted for a small percentage of Microsoft and Google domains. . . but 30 percent of Yahoo.com. Users went to the m.yahoo domain, more than went to mail.yahoo.com or login.yahoo.com.” So some of these m.sites are getting decent traction with consumers.

Why are Internet companies doing this? Twitter says:

We use the m because it’s the shortest possible meaningful sub domain and typing on some phones is a pain. We didn’t launch [the main site] with auto-detection because it would have held back the launch (it’s difficult).

Basically the M Dot is a symbol of how some of the Internet companies are thinking about the mobile web — come at it from a desktop perspective, and doing the easiest thing until a more standardized way comes around.

What do you think? Do you use m.domain or an alternative? Why or why not?

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