What's so hot about the .mobi top-level domain

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Yesterday saw the start of the free-for-all domain registration process for the new top-level domain extension (TLD) .mobi (dotmobi).

Unlike other top-level domains like .com and .net, the .mobi TLD will put certain requirements on the websites that can be hosted, in order to make them mobile-friendly. Quite what these standards are isn’t totally clear yet, but they’ll address issues of download speed, types and quality of content.

CEO of MTLD (Mobile Top Level Domain organisation), Neil Edwards said: “The mobile web from the standpoint of content is in its absolute infancy. In terms of the number of sites and the content; it is not very good. If you try your favourite websites on a mobile phone, the chances are they are not going to work.”

Certain sections of the Net get excited when a new TLD becomes available, but I’m not one of them.

Sure, it opens up a whole new set of naming possibilities, but other than that it isn’t going to do much on its own to improve the quality of the mobile Internet experience.

More important factors are the speed of mobile Net access (the emerging HDSPA standard will help) and a flat-rate for access. Of course good content is also vital, but simply sticking existing sites on a dotmobi domain is not going to make them appealing or useful to mobile users.

According to the BBC report, more people have a web-enabled mobile phone than a PC with Internet access, so the potential is definitely there, and it’s something that mobile manufacturers, network operators, and large website operators are all keen to tap into.

Tapping into .mobi is fine, but there’s a lot more to get right as well if mobile surfing is to really catch on.

Andy Merrett