Mobile-Only Domain Shows Its True Color: Green

from the skepticalism dept

Backers of the .mobi mobile top-level domain insist that such a domain is “needed” so people know they can access the internet from their mobile phones, and do so in a usable manner. As has been pointed out several times, a mobile-only domain is pointless and unnecessary, given the proliferation of mobile browsers that can handle full HTML as well as the ability of web sites to determine what type of browser and device somebody is using, and reformat and deliver content accordingly. The insistence of mTLD, the administrator of .mobi, that the best way to encourage uptake of the mobile web by users and content providers is to lure companies into buying a new domain and then forcing them to adhere to technical rules on how they serve content remains unconvincing, and could ultimately do more harm than good. Given all this, as well as ICANN’s approval of other useless domains, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s little more going on here than another domain-based money grab. But never fear: mTLD isn’t about that, and is looking out for the little guy by coming up with an “equitable” way to determine who gets to buy the domains of certain generic words and phrases (like phone.mobi or sex.mobi) it’s set aside as “premium names”. What’s this equitable format, since first-come, first-serve is apparently so inequitable? Why, an auction of course, to ensure each domain is sold for the maximum amount of money. That, and the fact that the list of premium names is some 149 pages long (PDF), doesn’t do much to support the idea that there’s a higher motive than a money-grab here.


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Comments on “Mobile-Only Domain Shows Its True Color: Green”

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34 Comments
Neil Edwards says:

dotMobi CEO's Response -- Please get your facts co

There were 17 balanced comments including my comment on Friday. Why did they “go away?”

Your article makes several inaccurate statements about dotMobi in this week’s post. One is entitled to his opinion, of course, but the facts do need to be set straight about dotMobi.

First, there’s the notion that dotMobi is forcing content owners to adhere to rules that could do more harm that good.

dotMobi’s “rules” were created in partnership with the W3C’s Mobile Web Initiative. dotMobi is simply making it mandatory that content owners follow the specifications created by the W3C. dotMobi, more importantly, provides training, documentation, software developer tools for free to the developer community to illustrate proper mobile content development. dotMobi is the only internet address recommends to content owners that the open standards created by the W3C are the way to build a better mobile experience. The end result is that the consumer will most likely have a predicatable experience on their mobile device.

ALso, dotMobi has never said that other Internet addresses will not or should not be mobile-friendly — another misconception that presumes mutual exclusivity where none exists. We have only accurately stated that dotMobi provides a consistent experience the consumer on the mobile device that other Internet addresses cannot enforce and do not have as their charter. In that sense, dotMobi is just as much a service mark as it is a TLD. Try your favorite dot-whatever your your mobile — and not a high end smart phone — and see what your mobile experience is for yourself. Then, try names like bmw.mobi, amf.mobi, weather.mobi, google.mobi, and so on. You will have a better experience.

The main thrust Carlo’s post, though, is the idea that dotMobi’s premium names are nothing more than money-grab.

Here’s the story: dotMobi held back around 5,000 commonly used words and phrases. These 5,000 words and phrases will be allocated on an equitable and objective basis either by request for proposal or auction in the coming months. Our goal is to make sure that words like weather.mobi, search.mobi, travel.mobi, and many others get into the hands of content owners who will actually build a weather, search, or travel application. If dotMobi did not hold back this small list, then the names would be purchased and held by parties who would only sell them on the aftermarket.

If we were going for the so-called “money grab,” then dotMobi would have held back the hundreds of thousands of well-known commonly used words and phrases.

It seems that there’s a bit of education that needs to go on in the domainer space. Domainers are currently driving growth in dot-com today, owning about 25% of the dot-com names for example. dotMobi has worked to create a more equitable process for allocating dotMobi names as we go live.

Regards,

Neil Edwards,
CEO, dotMobi

For more, check out blog.mobi on our reaction.

Mike Masnick says:

Different site

Neil,

Please do not suggest we deleted comments. There are two different blogs at Techdirt. One is Techdirt and the other is a wireless only focused one called Techdirt Wireless. This one is Techdirt Wireless. The comments you suggest we made “go away” are all available at the other site.

I’ll let Carlo respond to your other points, but it seems to me like you misread the point of his post, set up some strawmen about what Carlo said and then knocked those down. For example, the fact that the standards are from the W3C has nothing to do with whether or not these restrictions are actually a good thing…

Brandon says:

dotMobi releasing a longer list?

“If we were going for the so-called ‘money grab,’ then dotMobi would have held back the hundreds of thousands of well-known commonly used words and phrases.” -Neil Edwards, dotMobi CEO

The 5,600+ words listed in the dotMobi Premium Name pdf may not be the only names that are set aside. If you take a look at the second sentence on the Premium Name pdf it says, “A final list will be published prior to the launch of the allocation process.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see if dotMobi does release a new/longer list and if they do then this most likely is a “money grab.” Stay tuned..

Shawn McCollum (user link) says:

m.domain.tld

I think that just using m.domain.tld is a much better and not any harder to type.

yahoo.mobi = 24 taps

m.yahoo.com = 24 taps

m.yahoo.net = 21 taps

mobi domains are $100 a pop.

They say they have 10,000 domains registered but I’ve never heard them say how many actual sites are attached to those domains. I think their just sucking in money from business’s that figure they can’t let anyone else have their name in mobi format.

Grant says:

This is ugly profiteering

I think the auctioning off of ‘premium’ domain names is an outrage and is blatant profiteering. Who gets the money from this auction anyway?

The fact that names like ‘weirdsex’ are considering ‘premium’ shows that the auctioning off of these names is in NO WAY for the public good – it is simply a way to generate money.

It actually disgusts me. It should not be allowed to happen.

wto605 says:

What a waste!

mobile.google.com

mobile.wunderground.com

That gets me to the three things I need….

E-mail (gmail of course)

News (through nicly sized conversions of articles on my personalized home page)

and accurate, detailed weather

And if you HAVE to see another site that doesn’t believe in putting up a mobile. version use the converter on mobile.google

P.S. I agree the names are a bit long but I have a treo and anyone who has a phone built in the past 2 or 3 years probably has an auto text complete mode that would probably be smart enough to say mobile after 2 or 3 letters.

Neil Edwards (user link) says:

DotMobi's response

Carlo makes a few inaccurate statements about dotMobi in this week’s post. One is entitled to his opinion, of course, but the facts do need to be set straight about dotMobi.

First, there’s the notion that dotMobi is forcing content owners to adhere to rules that could do more harm that good.

dotMobi’s “rules” were created in partnership with the W3C’s Mobile Web Initiative. dotMobi is simply making it mandatory that content owners follow the specifications created by the W3C. dotMobi, more importantly, provides training, documentation, software developer tools for free to the developer community to illustrate proper mobile content development. dotMobi is the only internet address recommends to content owners that the open standards created by the W3C are the way to build a better mobile experience. The end result is that the consumer will most likely have a predicatable experience on their mobile device.

ALso, dotMobi has never said that other Internet addresses will not or should not be mobile-friendly — another misconception that presumes mutual exclusivity where none exists. We have only accurately stated that dotMobi provides a consistent experience the consumer on the mobile device that other Internet addresses cannot enforce and do not have as their charter. In that sense, dotMobi is just as much a service mark as it is a TLD. Try your favorite dot-whatever your your mobile — and not a high end smart phone — and see what your mobile experience is for yourself. Then, try names like bmw.mobi, amf.mobi, weather.mobi, google.mobi, and so on. You will have a better experience.

The main thrust Carlo’s post, though, is the idea that dotMobi’s premium names are nothing more than money-grab.

Here’s the story: dotMobi held back around 5,000 commonly used words and phrases. These 5,000 words and phrases will be allocated on an equitable and objective basis either by request for proposal or auction in the coming months. Our goal is to make sure that words like weather.mobi, search.mobi, travel.mobi, and many others get into the hands of content owners who will actually build a weather, search, or travel application. If dotMobi did not hold back this small list, then the names would be purchased and held by parties who would only sell them on the aftermarket.

If we were going for the so-called “money grab,” then dotMobi would have held back the hundreds of thousands of well-known commonly used words and phrases.

It seems that there’s a bit of education that needs to go on in the domainer space. Domainers are currently driving growth in dot-com today, owning about 25% of the dot-com names for example. dotMobi has worked to create a more equitable process for allocating dotMobi names as we go live.

Carlo (user link) says:

Re: DotMobi's response

Neil, none of my comments are inaccurate — your comment that dotMobi could have held back even more names to auction hardly proves this isn’t a money grab, while the use of an auction simply ensures the money that resellers would make simply ends up in dotMobi’s pockets. Readers can decide for themselves if that sounds like a money grab or not.

But what’s more troubling is dotMobi’s continued message that it is somehow a vital part of making the mobile internet a more positive experience, when this simply isn’t the case. There is no need for a site owner to pay for a .mobi domain to make their content mobile-friendly when they can already do so at their existing address. That’s a far better solution, since a user can simply find what they’re looking for at an address they’re used to, rather than having to worry about another address, whether it’s mobile.x.com, x.com/mobile, or x.mobi.

You say there’s a “misconception that presumes mutual exclusivity where none exists” — you have yourself to blame for that. dotmobi has continually marketed itself as the necessary and best solution for making content mobile-friendly, and your marketing continue to do this, especially by improperly displaying sites that do work on mobile, then saying “.mobi sites solve the biggest barriers to mobile Internet use…” .mobi doesn’t solve anything — it’s simply another domain you’re hoping companies will feel compelled to buy.

David (user link) says:

Re: DotMobi's response

Neil – we wish to help you educate what .mobi means – and time is of the essence. Our company LearnKey is a publisher of IT content at http://www.LearnKey.com and we have every intention to help this .mobi along the way. Look at our demos and connect with me – we build world class content and we really have the tools and capability to help you.

Brandon says:

dotMobi releasing a longer list?

“If we were going for the so-called ‘money grab,’ then dotMobi would have held back the hundreds of thousands of well-known commonly used words and phrases.” -Neil Edwards, dotMobi CEO

The 5,600+ words listed in the dotMobi Premium Name pdf may not be the only names that are set aside. If you take a look at the second sentence on the Premium Name pdf it says, “A final list will be published prior to the launch of the allocation process.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see if dotMobi does release a new/longer list and if they do then this most likely is a “money grab.” Stay tuned..

fishmouth says:

What's that smell?

It’s pretty hilarious to see so many people whining about a company making money from a good (and profitable, heaven forbid) idea. Reminds me of a story I heard once about few nutbags who decided that they’d strap an engine on a set of wheels and try to dupe the world into thinking that the contraption would be a useful tool for transportaion…when all it was really about was making money.

(note to the sarcasm-intolerant literal-minded: no, I’m not saying .mobi is akin to the birth of the automotive industry)

C’mon…if you are a company and you feel like you’re being robbed, simply don’t register the .mobi. And is it really necessary to worry about having to sue the new owner of rubberfist.mobi?…who would shop for those from a car anyway?

If a user types in domain.tld, expecting to see your company, and lands somewhere else…but they stay on that site instead of trying another tld or doing a search (or doing what I do and just end up looking at porn), your company should be redefining some marketing strategies, or maybe just closing shop altogether.

For those that suggest that a company should be using m.domain.tld OR mobile.domain.tld OR domain.tld/mobile OR domain.tld with a detect/redirect, you have a great point. However, sounds like a marketing nightmare to me in terms of getting the masses to know what to type in if they’re specifically looking for the mobile version of your site. (Do I type the usual domain? Was that ‘m’.domain.tld or ‘mobile’.domain.tld or domain.tld/’mobile’??…personally, I’d love to know what will guarantee what I’m looking for without trying out 6 different addresses…kinda like how most people first try the .com on their regular computers…if they do that on their phone and you have a redirect…what’s the problem?)

Any type of standardization that works well, is efficient and is eventually embraced by the masses is actually a good thing (that’s what makes it embraceable). Otherwise it’s just forgotten. I guess we’ll see if that happens here, but if it is forgotten, I hope it’s replaced by something with the same intention that doesn’t upset so many purist netheads that assume the end user should have the same thinking they do.

Also, re. the detect/redirect argument…great, do that and it will work…but what if I think this mobile phone fad might stick around for a while, and I want to develop a site for mobiles only, and perhaps .com is taken? If people stop crying and decide .mobi’s a good thing and it moves forward, I just might prefer .mobi over .com for such a site! Does the owner of one tld really expect to be entitled to all others…without having to pay for them? Decide what you need, get in line and buy it…that’s how it works for the rest of the world, in most circumstances.

Idunno…it sounds like so many people out there are marching out of their parent’s basements talking like the very fabric of the Internet is being compromised…really?? So let me get this straight…NO new ideas are to be introduced? And moreover, no one should be making any money after developing said ideas??

Seriously…what is that delicious toasty aroma?…is that granola?

Hans says:

mobi

I understand your point about the mtld money grab. Yes, they will rake in the cash and it does appear self-serving. On the other hand, we have already seen that so many .com names are not used because some person bought it for $20 and does not want to sell (except for unreasonable amounts). So, by going to auction there would be more of a chance that the person who gets it is actually going to use it and make something of it. This should improve the content and usability of the .mobi landscape.

I still feel a bit offended that mtld is coordinating these auctions and getting all this money. If there was another way I would feel better about it. Given the situation however, I am not more concerned about where the money goes. If the funds go to the development of stanards and guidelines, towards refining these standards and guidelines, towards education, technical support and to marketing – then I feel that there could be some tangible benefit to all associated with the vision of .mobi.

With regard to that vision, I see a great benefit to the .mobi concept. While you can go to any site on a mobile device, I really feel that it is important to split out those sites that are intended for a computer from those that are intended for a mobile device. It is more than accomodating the technical optimization for the device. Much more important to me is the business model, content, relevance, and specific targeting of mobile users themselves. It is not “how” it is delivered to the device but rather “what” is delivered to that device.

Kevin says:

nice comment fishmouth....

I for one have domain names across different TLDs.

Lately, many people have jumped on the bandwagon bashing .mobi about various things (some valid, some not), but I actually enjoy hearing diverse ideas and comments on this topic. I am by far not the smartest person in the world and I would love to get some of your “smarts” to rub off on me.

Since most of us live in a free, capitalistic society (well, may be excl. China), you make money and spend as you wish. If you feel like buying .mobi, go ahead buy some. If you feel like continuing to buy .com or whatever, do that too! I personally don’t subscribe to vitriolic attacks (from either side) as to who will be right in the future.

As someone who uses a PDA everyday, I am very frustrated with most .com pages (I visit) that do not work. I think .mobi has the right set of “guidelines” to nurture explosive growth in mobile internet in the near future.

Will my investments in .mobi work out? Maybe or maybe not. That’s what makes life interesting, no?

d. on the net (user link) says:

I like Mobi when I'm in a hurry

My computer is getting pretty full and runs really slow sometimes. I went to one site and they had a link to their “fast” and easy to download mobi site. Even though I was on my laptop, I choose the mobi site, found what I wanted in a snap without all the slower downloading graphics and all. I could see how dot mobi could be a godsend to smaller devices and to people in a hurry.

D on the net

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