Mobile Internet Domain Goes Online

The new Internet top level domain “.mobi” went online this week, promising mobile device users a better, more reliable Internet experience with sites ending with the domain designed specifically for the smaller screens and other restraints of handsets.

However, some industry observers claimed the wireless Web — in the form of faster, more capable mobile networks and devices — is leaving .mobi behind as the mobile multimedia experience moves ahead.

“Technical innovation is running away from .mobi,” Ovum Vice President of Wireless Telecoms Roger Entner told TechNewsWorld. “It’s a great thing, it’s just five years too late.”

Phone Home Page

Dubbed by backers as “the first and only Internet address created for mobile phones,” .mobi registration was opened this week, with a sunrise registration period wherein mobile industry association members and legitimate trademark holders can get a .mobi version of their Internet addresses.

The domain name, which drew marquis registrants such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft this week, was created by dotMobi, a company formed by tech and wireless giants including Ericsson, Microsoft, Samsung, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

The domain will be available to the general public beginning August 28, dotMobi said.

“We are confident that dotMobi will revolutionize the optimized mobile Internet and positively impact consumers in the mobile community,” said dotMobi CEO Neil Edwards.

Already There

The new TLD may be useful for organizations that must tailor their sites to limited bandwidth and device capabilities, Ovum’s Entner said. However, the trend is toward more bandwidth and more powerful mobile devices, which can deliver better mobile Internet browsing without a special TLD, the analyst added.

“On an EV-DO or HSDPA (wireless) network and a powerful handset, that handset can render [Internet pages] independently,” Entner said.

In addition, the increasing amount of multimedia capabilities and content for handsets makes the wireless Web somewhat less appealing, he added.

“Music and video certainly are more appealing than the static Web,” he said, adding the Internet is nevertheless still appealing for mobile users. “With more powerful devices, you can do that.”

Too Busy to Browse

Mobile handset users who browse or otherwise use the Internet are only a fraction of all mobile device users, but their numbers are growing very rapidly, DataComm President Ira Brodsky told TechNewsWorld.

Web sites specially made for mobile users, particularly a large site containing lots of information, might be useful, but he added he did not see why another Internet domain would be required.

“I would think this is a situation where both sides are right,” he said.

Brodsky said there are other issues, such as making mobile Internet content useful, that are more important to the march toward the mobile Internet.

“In the future, anybody ought to be able to jump on a Web site with a mobile phone,” he said.

Brodsky highlighted the challenge of making mobile content relevant to users, who when mobile, are typically busy with something else.

“People don’t browse from a mobile phone, they’re usually doing other things,” he said.

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